Colorado's 13th Judicial District Youth Diversion Program
Diversion is defined in the Colorado Children’s Code (§19-1-103(44), C.R.S.) as “a decision made by a person with authority or a delegate of that person in which the result is that a specific official action of the legal system is not taken against the youth in lieu of participating in individually designed services provided by a specific program."...
The goal is to prevent youth from becoming involved (or more deeply involved) in the formal legal system.
Juvenile Diversion becomes an opportunity for youth to learn from their mistakes, while also receiving an alternative to having the full extent of Court involvement to learn said lessons. Diversion can make it possible for youth to avoid a negative juvenile court record, even though some of their choices have included criminal behavior. Juvenile Diversion programs are based on the premise that many youth are harmed more than they are helped by becoming involved with the traditional juvenile justice system.
The Diversion program can help youth and families throughout the 7 county 13th Judicial District in northeastern Colorado.
This includes Kit Carson, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington and Yuma counties.
Some concerns or situations that Diversion could help with:
Minor in Possession
Unhealthy Choices (sexting, internet use)
District, County, and Municipal Courts and the District Attorney's Office
Youth Diversion Programs throughout the country focus on finding alternative interventions for youth who are referred to the justice system for minor delinquent behavior. The standards define “minor delinquent behavior” as “conduct that does not rise to the level of significant or repeated harm to others, significant or repeated property loss or damage, or a threat of significant harm to others.”
With Diversion, Officers of the Court in the 13th Judicial District now have a supportive option that will educate young people rather than punish them.
School Administrators, Deans of Students, and
The professionals who work with kids on a daily basis are often the ones who first notice when something isn’t quite right. By referring kids from schools to Diversion, we can often help them before the issues they’re facing escalate.
are a few examples of concerns for which school officials may choose to refer a student to Diversion.
Law Enforcement Officers
Our local police and sheriff departments do an amazing job with kids. Sometimes officers let a young person off with a warning when they’ve done something they shouldn’t be doing because they don’t want to see a “good kid” enter the court system.
Diversion provides an intervention option that is not punitive. Rather, kids are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Police officers are encouraged to make direct referrals to Diversion when youth are on the radar for such behavior.
Some examples include:
Minor in Possession
Child Welfare Professionals
Crossover youth (involved in both the child welfare and the juvenile justice systems), are at the very top of the list of kids that we all worry about. Over the past decade, a tremendous amount of work has been done to understand how to best help youth avoid this situation, including finding alternatives to juvenile justice referrals from the child welfare system.
The Diversion program could be a great option when youth in foster care or other youth who end up on the radar within the child welfare system engage in low-level crimes or status offenses such as:
Youth in Conflict
You might be asking yourself, “What exactly does Diversion do? What kind of help does Diversion provide?”
Diversion services include:
1 - Risk/Needs Assessment
When youth are referred to Diversion, the first thing that happens is a conversation. This is a strengths-based, family-driven process during which the purpose is to get to know this kid and understand what's going on, what they've already got going for them, and then identify ways that Diversion can HELP.
*The Arizona Needs/Risk Assessment is included in this process, as well as components of the BSTAD screening tool.
2 - Diversion Agreement
The Youth Diversion Agreement includes the following:
*No new criminal activity
3 - Coaching Program
All youth who are enrolled in Diversion will be guided through a crash course in self-development that will lead to greater self-awareness and purpose-driven decision-making. Coaching includes lessons from The Messy in Between curriculum, plus weekly coaching sessions that help youth maximize the life lessons available to them through to the incident that led to their referral.
Key concepts taught include:
Cognitive Behavioral Skills
Avoiding Harmful Behaviors
4 - Referrals, Resources, and Service Coordination
When youth would benefit from multi-system service coordination, a wraparound model will be implemented to provide an individualized approach. Service providers, natural supports, and the youth and family work together to help achieve the family goals. This process includes the utilization of an appropriate multi-system release of information and follow-up services to ensure engagement with the service plan.
5 - Graduation!
"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate." Oprah Winfrey
When youth complete the program, their achievements are celebrated! The specifics of this will be determined in part by the youth and family, but will always include a $50 gift card and diploma.