About the Program:
The 360 Youth Diversion Program has been on existence for 4 years. The program is designed to help address the problem of increasing youth recidivism created by a criminal justice system that sends first time offenders through the juvenile justice system perpetuating a destructive cycle for youths, families and communities. Unlike many programs targeting youth recidivism, this program takes a more holistic view of the drivers of youth delinquency including the role human development, parents and communities play.
The 360 Youth Diversion Programs helps prevent Santa Ana youth from falling victim to a life of crime by avoiding unnecessary detention, a key factor in recidivism, and providing support and education to rehabilitate early offenders. Services include mental health counseling to address underlying behavioral and developmental disorders that can lead a juvenile to struggle with normative expectations; parenting classes to aid in family structure and communication practices to strengthen a juvenile’s ties to adult support; tutoring to catch up on school work; and connection to a multitude of community programs to engage the juvenile in appropriate activities.
The program has delivered excellent results. The majority of youth assigned to 360 YTD did not come back to probation. Program participants also have a much better chance of completing school and becoming a productive member of society than youth who follow the traditional path and are exposed to the harsh, and often unfair county correctional facilities. 360 YTD aims to stem the tide of increasing juvenile detention and help to create a society of youth engaged in their community.
Primary Program Components:
Physical Health: Participating Youth work doing gardening with an expert gardener who helps them learn how to grow their own food. We use the garden as a Metaphor of life. For instance, the kids learn through their work that a bad weed can spoil a whole garden. This helps them see why bad friends can do the same in their lives.
Mental Health: The program uses Cognitive Therapy to help the youth learn about thoughts and the power of the brain. Our kids learn how to be the captain of their thoughts. They also learn about different mental health topics such as domestic violence, negotiation, communication, date violence and many other themes that are aimed to help de-normalize violence.
Spiritual Health: The youth have one hour of yoga lead by an instructor that is trained in how to heal trauma through the practice of yoga.
Parent’s Component: A unique and important part of our program is the focus on and inclusion of the parents. Parents are required to attend the program for 4 weeks. Parenting classes help parents better monitor and communicate with their child. Parenting styles and skills are closely linked to juvenile offending behavior and educational programs that can inform parents of offending youth can often reduce a juvenile’s desire to offend and better equip parents with the necessary skills for coping with a difficult child.
The program develops a better communication between parents and their children by promoting classes together, where they have to practice the skills that they learn in the program. Parents report to Probation officers, how this program has greatly help their family.
Services Provided for Youth and their Families:
Mental Health Counseling is offered for parents and youth, after an intake by a clinical psychologist is given. Many juvenile offenders suffer from learning disabilities, trauma, or other contributing mental health factors that if left untreated can lead to continuing illegal behavior. They can be referred to Individual and group counseling.
Academic Tutoring is often necessary for offending youth to facilitate satisfactory progress towards State Education Standards. Repeated offenses and court hearings can result in an offending youth missing substantial amounts of school instruction that then places him/her behind in their educational development. This can easily discourage some to forgo continuing their education which has detrimental consequences for both the youth and society.
Community Service is also a frequent punishment for low-level offending youth. 360 has close contacts with local non-profits that would welcome the placement of additional volunteers. The Youth can also choose to continue doing their hours in the Community Garden developing leadership skills by teaching others. The youth working in the garden, harvest food to take to the homeless shelters to do service. Promotoras work with youth and local organizations to ensure productive compliance with court ordered community service.
In addition to the 10-week comprehensive program including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness yoga practice, and organic urban gardening for the youth and family, 360 Youth Diversion volunteers collaborate with the community to help bring about initiatives and services to transform high risk neighborhoods through an interactive system of activities. Services may include assistance for the following:
Community development & education
Lobbying for neighborhood parks
Professional & referral services
Civic & municipal issues
Partnership with community agricultural programs to create urban gardens