Unfortunately, many American Indian youth end up in the juvenile justice system because they are exposed to risk factors that increase their chances of becoming involved in delinquency. American Indian communities often lack sufficient law enforcement services, have underfunded justice systems, and often do not have resources to provide prevention and diversion services.

There is a growing sentiment that whenever safe and possible, American Indian youth should be diverted to effective, culturally relevant community-based programs and services. To improve juvenile justice diversion policies and programs at tribal, state, and federal levels, it is necessary to:

  • Increase coordination of service provision
  • Recognize the important role of evidence-based practice, treatment, and trauma-informed services
  • Develop sustainable policies and programs

This initiative brings together teams of community leaders from selected tribes to identify and implement innovative approaches for diverting youth with behavioral health needs to culturally relevant, community-based programs and services. Participating tribes develop action plans that will facilitate the implementation of strategies for identifying and diverting American Indian youth away from contact with the juvenile justice system.

This initiative is supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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