RELEASE — Kingston Police and Youth Diversion have been working together since the onset of COVID 19 to address a significate gap impacting youth in our community. As many social service agencies adapt to temporary service delivery models due to the impact of COVID 19, young people are falling through the cracks leaving police as the last line of support.
This unique initiative will see Youth Diversion staff embed with the Kingston Police to support the coordination and facilitation of pre and post charge diversion and Intersections referrals for children and youth between the age of 8 and 17.
The pre/post charge diversion program can be used to support youth who are aged 12 to 17 at the time of their offence. The goal is to hold youth accountable for their actions through a restorative approach that incorporates the young person, their family, community members and people impacted by the offence. Our youth justice programs aim to provide rehabilitative and reintegration programs and services to youth in conflict with the law. The pre and post charge diversion process allows a youth to take responsibility for their offence while also providing education and support for the youth and their family to prevent further conflict with the law.
Intersections is an early intervention program for youth, ages 8-17, and their families. It focuses on navigation and coordination of services for children and youth who are at-risk of becoming justice involved. The result for young people is improved well-being and reduced involvement with police services. Young individuals and/or their families often come into contact with police because of situations relating to mental health challenges, childhood and youth developmental needs and/or substance use struggles. A newly adapted online reporting tool, accessible through the Kingston Police website, will provide families with rapid access to supports to address mental health and addiction struggles, parent/teen conflict and other behavioural challenges that find them in contact with the law.
“This is a key initiative that will address youthful offending behaviour in a timely manner applying a social service lens and not a criminal lens.” said Shawn Quigley, Executive Director of Youth Diversion. “COVID 19 has required all of us to think outside of the box and adapt how we support children youth and families”. Mr. Quigley went on to say, “Youth Diversion has partnered with the Kingston Police on many initiatives over our 45 years and this new partnership is another example of how our two systems are addressing the needs of children, youth and families in our community”. By linking up directly with the CORE unit and working alongside the Youth Programs officer, this new partnership should further strengthen our longstanding relationships for service delivery and the goal of reducing youth coming in contact with police.
This new partnership will also incorporate an evaluation component designed to measure the effectiveness of this initiative. Data collection and outcomes analysis will provide valuable information for further planning to support youth in conflict with the law or youth experiencing social issues such as mental health and addiction or parent/teen conflicts.
Deputy Chief Chris Scott reflected that, “Kingston Police are grateful to have community partners such as Youth Diversion to enhance our outreach to and support of youth. We are fortunate enough to have already established a strong relationship with Youth Diversion over the years. Now, this dual implementation of both a digital online reporting tool and an increased in-person collaboration between staff will only serve to better ensure Kingston youth receive the services best suited for their unique circumstances and steers them away from the criminal justice system.” The initiative will be piloted between Sept 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020.