Juvenile Diversion and Mediation programs provide communities they serve with an alternative means of dispute resolution for children who commit minor offenses, are first offenders or are very young.
The goal of diversion is to prevent further involvement in the formal legal system by a child while at the same time finding a remedy for a child's inappropriate behavior.
Typically diversion programs are operated by public (county or municipal) or private non-profit agencies that utilize local, volunteer citizens who meet with a child offender and his or her parents to render an appropriate disposition of the complaint. Such dispositions typically include:
- victim restitution (compensation-work-service by the offender for the victim);
- community service (unpaid work by the offender for a tax-supported public or non-profit agency) and;
- educational programs regarding substance abuse or crime impact.
To qualify for diversion the child must be willing to accept responsibility for committing the act and adhere to the consequences imposed by the community diversion program. Children who fail to complete a diversion program are referred to court.