Juvenile Justice Diversion

Colchester Youth Services operates a Juvenile Review Board (JRB) as well as a Families With Service Needs (FWSN) Review Board.

These Boards exist to offer a range of meaningful alternatives to the Criminal Justice System through intervention strategies that are responsible and community based.  These programs can offer community based solutions to deal these issues while avoiding the delays, costs and stigma associated with the court and legal system. The Boards are comprised of representatives from the Colchester Public Schools; Colchester Youth Service Bureau, Juvenile Court, Department of Children & Families, United Community & Family Services and community members.

The Juvenile Review Board

The JRB is an option for first time offenders who have committed non-serious juvenile offenses and are deemed appropriate by the referring agency. After meeting the youth and hearing the case, the JRB will design and offer alternatives that are aimed at: 1) promoting responsible behavior by offenders and 2) solving problems that may be at the root of the delinquent behavior, 3) and where possible, take into consideration the needs of the victim.

The FWSN Review Board

Families with children who are engaging in risky behaviors such as running away from home, school truancy, and defiance of family or school rules often rely on state operated programs to help address these problems. The state of Connecticut has defined such children and parents as a Family with Service Needs (FWSN). Beginning in 2005, Connecticut began enacting a series of legislative, policy and procedural changes to address these issues. These changes were grounded in the belief that swift, community-based family services were the best approach for Families with Service Needs. The new approach to at-risk youth and families rejected the use of the justice system as the first response to FWSN cases. The state developed a FWSN Advisory Board who concluded that providing programming to assist Families with Service Needs is critical because of the link between risky behaviors and future delinquency and crime. Research demonstrates that these behaviors are strong predictors of continued involvement with juvenile, criminal and child welfare agencies. Therefore, intervening with appropriate services at an early stage is crucial to reducing future involvement with the justice systems.

To that end, Colchester’s School District and Youth Service Bureau in collaboration with the Juvenile Court and DCF, have developed a Family with Service Needs (FWSN) Review Board. The purpose of the Board is to intervene and divert at risk children from the entering the court system. The Board will recommend diversions that encourage positive, pro-social development, school attendance, family engagement and participation in community-based programs.