Through its diversion on Youth Diversion and Development (YDD), ODR has diverted more than 1,000 youths into community-based youth development and restorative justice services. Research demonstrates that contact with law enforcement can change a young person’s life for the worst, so ODR has worked to prevent even more young people from ever entering the justice system. With future investments, Los Angeles County’s adoption of the Youth Justice Reimagined approach promises to expand on this model and build a robust youth development infrastructure in the county.
These programs can have a transformative impact on young people like Emma (not her real name). When Emma was referred to Youth Development and Diversion, she had been performing sex work, had been in a gang, was struggling with addiction and had just learned she was pregnant. Through connection to community-based services, ODR interrupted this cycle of trauma, helping her figure out her goals and putting together a service plan to help her achieve them. For two months, Emma attended addiction counseling, therapy, and parenting classes, all while remaining a part-time student in school. When she completed the program, she had a stronger support system around her, felt a greater sense of self-confidence, and was excited to become a mother.