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Communities For Children And Youth Diversion To Assets Project

 

Communities for Children and Youth is working with the Maine Department of Corrections to develop several pilot “diversion to assets” programs in five regions of the state. Some police departments and juvenile community corrections officers (JCCOs) have been able to locate community resources that can engage a young person who has their first encounter with the legal system, diverting them to the support of community-based programs and people. These youth then have an opportunity to connect with caring adults and peers in a variety of structured ways that support the development of their strengths-- known in the youth development field as “developmental assets.”

Some communities divert many more young people to natural community supports than others, preventing entrance into the complex juvenile justice system that often puts lower risk youth in greater danger of continuing criminologic behavior. The “C4CY Diversion to Assets” project is designed to develop significant community connections for these lower risk youth in communities whose populations are larger and more complex, and where the police departments and JCCO’s need help in identifying positive solutions other than arrest or detention.

This project is not intended to serve young people in need of substance abuse treatment or intensive mental health services, and is therefore not appropriate for youth in need of ongoing case management. Rather, this project intends to hold young people “accountable” in a different way, by assessing their strengths (their weaknesses have already been demonstrated by their illegal action) through the Search Institute’s Developmental Asset Profile, and connecting them to caring adults and peers who can help them develop their assets through local opportunities such as mentoring, after-school programs, restorative justice meetings, community service projects, evidence-based curriculums, or other community-based learning experiences. In this way, we hope to protect many young people from further involvement in the juvenile justice system, as well as promote the internal and external assets that will support their healthy development.

We began to pilot work the program with five largely urban communities in 2008: Biddeford, Lewiston, Augusta, Waterville and Bucksport. Each of these cities identify and develop asset development resources unique to their communities, with one agency taking responsibility for organizing and coordinating the local “Youth Diversion to Assets Project” Team (YDAP Team). This agency  identifies one person who will serve as the Team leader; will take responsibility for the assessment, assigned activity and follow-through plan developed for each young person referred to the project; and meets monthly with the C4CY Executive Director and the other Team Leaders to collaboratively monitor and evaluate the progress of the project. The “pilot” nature of this project will allow for creativity and variations in the local approaches to asset development, and will therefore be evaluated carefully.

For more information contact Susan Savell or call her at Communities for Children and Youth: Office: 207-287-4377; Cell: 207-462-5088.

Source :  The Communities for Children and Youth Diversion to Assets Program is supported by Maine’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and Grant Number 015-03A-B010-01 6401 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.