Projects: Diversion Resources for Police and Families

Many communities are frustrated with how to respond to youth “acting out”—running away from home, skipping school, violating curfew, or disobeying adults—as well as how to respond to young people getting arrested for more serious actions like fighting and other events stemming from family conflict. This project describes new and exciting models for juvenile diversion across the country, highlighting concrete examples, their potential benefit, and lessons stakeholders involved in development and implementation have learned. The goal is to inspire additional communities to explore, understand, and develop these approaches and keep young people who engage in minor misbehavior out of the juvenile justice system.


1.      Highlight new and exciting models for juvenile diversion happening across the country to inspire additional communities to explore and develop these approaches.

2.      Encourage collaboration between police, families, and community partners in juvenile diversion efforts. 

Key Facts

1.      Youth who are arrested, even for minor misbehavior, often end up with criminal records that can hurt their futures—it’s harder to get jobs, housing, college, even a driver’s license.

2.      Over 100,000 youth were arrested in 2013 for behaviors like running away, skipping school, violating curfew, or disobeying adults.

Learn More

For the past several years, CYJ has worked to provide policymakers and practitioners with tools and information to create effective, community-based responses for keeping young people who engage in noncriminal behavior out of the juvenile justice system. Learning more about justice system entry points by way of status offenses and other low-level behaviors is critical. We know that a police encounter is not the only way youth get involved with the justice system. In many cases, families dealing with troubling behavior unwittingly send their children into the justice system by calling the police in a crisis when they feel they have nowhere to turn for help. Moreover, police officers—required to respond and wanting to help—are reluctant to leave a youth or their family in a crisis situation but are limited by the lack of options available to them. Through approaches centered on collaboration among stakeholders that appropriately and effectively address youth behavior without funneling them into the justice system, families, communities, and law enforcement are empowered and prepared to connect youth with  resources that will best meet their needs. 




Featured Expert

Director, Center on Youth Justice