Youth Diversion Program

What is “diversion”?

In general, the term diversion defines an alternative, non-judicial method of dealing with the youth and the offense.

The goals of diversion are:

  • To allow the youth to acknowledge responsibilities for his or her actions with appropriate consequences.
  • To provide the youth and family with needed resources.
  • To prevent further involvement with the juvenile justice system.

How do we participate?

The Program Manager is Kelly Musca, her email is kelly.musca@westcountyservices.org. Referrals and inquiries can be emailed to her or mailed directly to the YDP P.O. Box 2472 Sebastopol, CA 95472. She also accepts calls on her cell directly from families interested in participating in the program. Her cell is (209) 247-7044.

Who is eligible for the Youth Diversion Program (YDP)?

Youth (ages 12-18) who have no prior official or unofficial records (first-time offenders) who have committed status (unruly, truancy, or curfew violations) or misdemeanor-level offenses are eligible for YDP. These individuals are referred to the youth diversion program through the police department, the probation office, or schools. Families who seek preventative resources are also welcome to join.

What to expect if you participate in YDP:

The youth and their parent/guardian are required to attend an intake night and six group sessions. This total of seven meetings takes place from 5:30pm-7: 30 pm Wednesday nights at the Sebastopol Youth Annex.
Depending on the referral source, there may be a 30-hour community service component.

During the intake, participants will fill out paperwork and receive an overview of the program. Following the intake, there are six sessions where the parent group and youth group go over material separately and then reconvene for a group activity at the end of each session. The program is curriculum-based, following material from Families in Action by Ph.D. Michael H. Popkin. Each session combines entertaining videos, group discussion, and activities in order to teach both teens and parents how to:

  • Communicate without fighting
  • Work through power struggles by understanding responsibility and discipline
  • Understand each other’s goals
  • Avoid risk-seeking behaviors

Families will be contacted for a one-month and six-month follow-up conversation about the youth’s progress and to offer any other needed support or referrals to resources.

What are the terms of being in the Youth Diversion Program?

The youth and one of their parents/guardians is required to arrive on time and participate in each session. If community service is required then all 30 hours must be completed by the end of the course. The youth must not receive another violation or get in trouble with their school while they are involved in YDP.

What if I do not want to participate in diversion?

If the youth chooses not to participate in YDP a letter of incompletion is sent back to the referral source (i.e. police, probation, school). The consequences are then determined by the referral source.

How much does the Youth Diversion Program cost?

YDP is free for all participants.