Our diversion services approach is a strategy we developed that addresses three critical areas primarily presenting in challenged students. These issues threaten school success, graduation rates, and include:
- Attendance (Truancy)
- Behavior (Disciplinary Referrals, Bullying, Fights, Class Disruptions, etc.)
- Academic Performance (GPA)
We provide a rapid response and intervention to students identified by school administrators in need of assistance in the 3 identified areas above. Our programs provide an integrated multi-service approach of proven evidence-based programs to appropriate students, based upon tailored service plans that are the result of individualized student assessments and identified needs.
This wraparound approach provides a continuum of services for schools and students that is modeled upon a paradigm of nationally recognized evidence and research-based programs proven to have achieved dramatic results in improving attendance, grade point averages, and behavior in our schools.
These services are voluntary and use a strengths-based approach where the youth and their family are empowered to take ownership over the service plan by working with team members to identify their strengths and needs and what supports are necessary for them to be successful, especially in school.
We have had great success in keeping kids out of the system and doing better in school!
All our Diversion Services are modeled on OJJDP research and evidenced-based programs. Please contact Jim Franco for more information on our Diversion Services and how to bring them to your school/community.
IRT (Initial Response Team)
The goal of the IRT model is to divert potential Persons in Need of Supervision and Juvenile Delinquency (PINS/JD) petitions in family court through early school-based intervention. Using the evidence and research-based practice of Family Group Conferencing and wrap-around, this process allows an intervention involving a community/team approach to incorrigibility, truancy, and juvenile offenses by developing an intervention/restitution plan outside of the courtroom and is agreed upon by all parties involved. When available, partners include probation and police departments (School Resource Offices - SROs and/or Special Patrol Officers – SPOs), school members and our agency staff located in the school building.
Students enrolled in IRT have demonstrated improvements in three key areas that indicate academic success and affect graduation rates; Grades, Attendance, and Discipline. This is accomplished by working with the student and family in a supportive manner, rather than in a punitive fashion, that also holds the student and team members accountable, to follow through on the goals and objectives of the service plan. The student also receives routine follow up and support to help them identify and overcome challenges in the school and home settings as well as finding ways to better engage them in school through a variety of outlets. Services offered by our agency include mentoring, grief and loss, anger management, resiliency skills, etc., which seek to enhance protective factors while attempting to mitigate any at-risk factors present.
Oneida County Arrest Diversion Program
The Arrest Diversion Program seeks to keep kids in school by diverting youth aged 10 - 17 from the criminal/juvenile justice system when they commit non-serious illegal acts. In many instances, when youth commit an illegal act, they face action that results in being removed from school and potentially facing placement in detention and/or other facilities. Numerous studies have shown that removing a child from a home setting and interrupting the education process is one of the most expensive and least effective solutions. County, state and federal estimates run the gamut of $166,000 to $260,000 per child for placement up to a year. This program uses the concepts of Family Group Conferencing and Wrap-Around (both research and evidenced-based programs) in which youth are held accountable for their actions through the principles of Restorative Justice, instead of being charged with a crime. The student also receives support services through our agency such as mentoring, grief and loss, anger management, etc., which seek to enhance protective factors while attempting to mitigate any at-risk factors present.
The Arrest Diversion Program is a collaborative effort between our agency, school districts, local police departments, the Oneida County Probation Department, the Oneida County Department of Social Services, and the Oneida County Mental Health Department. Youth are referred to the program by the school, law enforcement and/or probation based on certain crimes. We work with the school, law enforcement, families and other entities involved with the student to keep the youth in school (or get back into school), graduate high school, and not be involved in the juvenile/criminal justice system now or in the future. Our goals are to reduce youth crime, juvenile delinquency, and present an alternative to arrest in appropriate circumstances.
The program was independently evaluated by SUNY Albany and was labeled as "Promising approach to reducing the school to prison pipeline."
"This initiative is an unprecedented step in reforming juvenile justice in Oneida County and the State of New York. This is a unique information sharing and collaborative inter-agency process that will reduce crime while giving children the chance to succeed. - County Executive Picente
"This is a vital step for family court and our community by diverting children who may commit low level, non-violent offenses from being arrested and entering a system in which many struggle to get out of." - Judge Randal Caldwell
"Keeping youth out of the criminal justice system is vital and it takes comprehensive information sharing program and collaborative process for it to work." - Sheriff Rob Maciol
"Anytime we can divert youth from the criminal justice system for low level, non-violent offenses is beneficial to our community and the child." - District Attorney Scott McNamara
"As we continue to make the City of Utica and our community safer this is a vital step to diverting youth from our criminal justice system. We have seen it work in our Utica Schools and look forward to the next step." - Mayor Robert Palmieri
This program is designed to divert youth from escalating volatile situations that have the potential to result in a suspension or an arrest. The program identifies youth who may already have been involved in fights, or are currently involved in disagreements that may end up in a physical altercation, and encourages them to voluntarily participate in a peer mediation program. The student peers are trained, monitored and assisted by members of our staff, who themselves have been trained in running peer mediation programs. The goals of all components of Youth Diversion are to reduce youth crime, juvenile delinquency, and present an alternative to arrest in appropriate circumstances. This is a research and evidenced-based program.