Family Services’ Launches Diversion Learning Lab

Teenagers are not known for their great decision making.  In fact, the stage of development from 12 – 20 is often marked by behavior that pushes boundaries and tests barriers as young people establish themselves as independent people.  And sometimes that behavior crosses a line and they find themselves involved with the juvenile justice system.  Family Services of the Merrimack Valley is pleased to now be partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) on a pilot project to divert young people from involvement in the justice system, and onto a path toward accountability, responsibility, and growth. 

The “Diversion Learning Lab” is a collaboration between Family Services, NFI in Lowell, Family Continuity in Worcester, DYS, the Massachusetts Juvenile Court and other stakeholders in the juvenile justice system.  This project is the result of two years of research and collaboration by the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board’s Community Based Interventions Subcommittee, and was specifically designed to:

  1. Reduce recidivism and increase public safety
  2. Support positive youth development
  3. Promote and ensure equity in the Juvenile Justice System and diversion process
  4. Hold youth accountable for their actions

Michelle Martinez, Family Services’ new Diversion Program Pilot Site Director, will be responsible for working with youth and families, as well as with the DYS and other project partners to develop a model program that can be deployed statewide in the future.  “I’m excited to get this project off the ground,”  says Ms. Martinez.  “It’s a great opportunity to help young people start making healthier decisions, and support families navigating the difficult adolescent years.”  For more information, contact [email protected].


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