‘Diversion’ is an attempt to divert, or channel out, youthful offenders from the juvenile justice system,’ as articulated by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Bynum and Thompson, 1996). Within the State of New Hampshire, there are approximately seventeen certified diversion programs. However, diversion practices vary in terms of the initial juvenile justice contact point, criteria for enrolling youth, and the types of services provided.
JSI was contracted by the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) Bureau of Juvenile Justice to create a Center for Excellence in Juvenile Court Diversion. The primary goal of this project was to educate policymakers on the following: the efficacy of court diversion; the core elements and best practices of court diversion that are integral to efficacy; and best practice strategies to initiate and sustain court diversion programs in New Hampshire.
In direct complement to the education of policymakers is the engagement of community groups and other stakeholders who provide or who are interested in providing court diversion programming. These efforts include developing a learning community of court diversion champions who increase their understanding of the core components of court diversion that will lead to efficacy that is based on established best-practice and research and an appreciation for the importance of fidelity to program design, evaluation and sustainability strategies.
JSI has used its experiences in public and community health improvement as well as technical experts from the field of practice in court diversion to conduct meetings with policymakers; develop materials for use in promoting, implementing and sustaining court diversion; institute communication channels and a technical assistance delivery system to support a learning community of practitioners; and through these efforts increase knowledge and action relative to expanded, effective court diversion practice in New Hampshire.
JSI has partnered with the Youth Council of Nashua, NH, and the NH Juvenile Court Diversion Network for eight consecutive years to bring together research and practice to enhance, expand and solidify the NH Juvenile COUrt Diversion Model. The partnerships developed have ensured that high quality deliverables and performance measures are met within the time frames required.