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© 1998, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Juvenile diversion programs are created to divert youth from early encounters with the juvenile court system. By focusing on strengths of children in a positive youth development framework, successful diversion programs discourage delinquency and encourage stronger family and community relationships. This guide describes the issues communities need to consider in the development of a juvenile diversion program.

Each year over two million juveniles in the United States are arrested and become involved in the juvenile court system. Juvenile diversion programs have been created to divert youth from their early encounters with the juvenile court system. These programs involve the suspension of formal criminal or juvenile justice proceedings against an alleged offender, and the referral of that adolescent to a treatment or care program. Diversion programs usually are intended for first-time offenders, but may be extended to youth with past offenses based on the discretion of the stakeholders described below. This NebGuide provides a guide to the basic steps one should take when beginning a juvenile pre-trial diversion program in a community. It is written with all youth services professionals and concerned community members in mind.