Anyone who has the opportunity to obtain a diversion for their criminal charge would be wise to take the chance they have been given to complete all orders of probation so as to avoid the existence of a criminal conviction being placed on their record. Many people do begin the probationary period with an intact support system and the resources at hand to be successful with their probation. This group of people will likely stay on probation just long enough for it to be a mild annoyance to their way of living, and then go about their lives without having to check that box on the job application, housing application, etc.
The group that does not find success with their orders of probation tend to have larger barriers to their success, many of which stem from substance use, mental health issues, lack of structure at home/school/work, and/or relationship issues. For the individuals in this group who are between 17 and 20 years old, the option of joining YADC is there, but it is a big commitment.
On top of everything else required by the court, YADC participants must meet weekly or biweekly with the Program Assistant, biweekly with their Probation Officer, attend Court Review sessions with the presiding judge, and attend weekly programming as a whole group. The staff works with participants to help them establish individualized goals and action plans with specific steps on following through; these concrete supports are meant to build a structured system in the young person's life so that they can carry new outlooks and behaviors over into their post-probation lives.
Although no other programs have been created that mirror YADC, there are several evidence-based practices from which we frame YADC protocol. We use a peer support model to help participants positively motivate each other to progress through the stages of the program; we endorse the theory that self-expression and authentic civic engagement can combine to create an extremely meaningful service-learning project, about which participants can feel proud; and we use strengths-based case management in working with participants so that the focus is always on moving forward while learning from your past, and accentuating each person's strengths so that they can feel confidence in themselves moving forward.
We are currently collecting various types of data that tell a story about the ways in which participants are benefiting from participating in our program, and we are very excited to see the outcomes.
Participants of YADC, community members with an interest in restorative and therapeutic justice or diversion programs, and YADC staff are encouraged to write posts to be submitted to the blog. Anyone is welcome to inquire as to the process of becoming published.
Please contact us if you would like us to post something on the website!