Youth Behavioral Health Diversion: Developing an Alternative First Responder Approach

Call for Applications from Jurisdictions to Receive Technical Assistance

August 25, 2023


The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, in partnership with the Center for Policing Equity, is seeking to partner with two jurisdictions to provide cost-free, intensive technical assistance (TA) to develop a diversion initiative focused on alternative responses to law enforcement contact for youth who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis (including behavioral health, family conflict, etc). To learn more about potential approaches, see this “Alternative First Responder Models Can Help Youth in Crisis” and accompanying webinar.

The CSG Justice Center will work with each jurisdiction for a period of nine months. Upon completion, jurisdictions will be equipped with a comprehensive action plan, including an implementation and funding plan. Specifically, at the end of the engagement, jurisdictions will have accomplished the following:

  • Outlined model components, partnerships, and funding for their diversion initiative
  • Identified policies and procedures to support implementation, drafted new policies, and gained buy-in for changing these policies
  • Developed a detailed action plan that outlines the diversion initiative components and policies, timelines, roles and responsibilities, and tools to gain additional buy-in and fundraise

To build the action plan, jurisdictions will answer a series of planning and implementation questions that cover key topics such as establishing a problem statement, goal setting, applying data, resource mapping, policy review, partner engagement, program development, sustainability, and more.

Key Technical Assistance Activities

 The CSG Justice Center, in partnership with each jurisdiction, will provide support for the following activities:

  • Forming a local collaborative to plan and guide the initiative
  • Hosting monthly calls with each planning team
  • Developing planning and implementation questions to guide model development
  • Facilitating peer connections with best practice sites across the country
  • Supporting policy development and model adaptations

Participating Site Requirements

If selected, participating sites are required to do the following:

  • Form an internal agency working group chaired by an agency leader.
  • Readily share data, policies, and practices concerning law enforcement contact, behavioral health needs, juvenile court referrals, school discipline, diversion initiatives, and more.
  • Demonstrate a clear commitment to meaningful policy and practice change by developing a detailed action plan for reform and an ongoing forum for overseeing this work.

Application Requirements

Lead applicants should be from state or local governments that are positioned to introduce and sustain an alternative response and diversion model, including expanding existing adult models. Jurisdictions should have a partnership with community-based organizations, school districts, juvenile justice, behavioral health, or other implementing agencies. In addition, applicants should include an elected official and a data analyst or researcher as part of their team.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest by October 6, 2023, signed by agency, judicial leadership, or both that addresses the following items:

  1. Commitment: Describe your agency’s commitment to establishing an alternative response diversion initiative and the goals leadership hopes to accomplish through this process. (100–300 words)
  2. Staffing: Who from your agency and partner organizations will staff the project and meet regularly with CSG Justice Center staff? How does your agency leadership want to be involved or kept abreast of project updates? Who are the key stakeholders that need to agree on final recommendations and action plans? How will agency leadership engage key stakeholders in this work? (100–300 words)
  3. Data, Policies, and Practices: What data related to developing an alternative response are tracked electronically (arrests, offenses, school-based referrals, behavioral health needs of youth, etc.)? What policies and practices are most likely in need of reform by implementing an alternative responder model? Is there any reluctance to share these data, policies, and practices? (100–300 words)

The CSG Justice Center will select two jurisdictions to participate in this opportunity by October 20, 2023. CSG Justice Center staff may reach out to applicants to better understand the goals and capacity of the agency, if necessary.

Please submit your letter to Stephanie Ueberall at by October 6, 2023. If you have any questions about the project or application process, please contact Stephanie at

About the author

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Deputy Program Director, Corrections and Reentry
Stephanie Ueberall works with states and counties to improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system. Stephanie has also worked to reduce the overuse of jail through initiatives such as Stepping Up and the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice
Challenge. She has extensive experience with youth and families involved in the justice system through direct service, research, technical assistance, and program design. Most recently, Stephanie was the director of violence prevention at the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, where she worked to enhance community-led youth gun violence prevention. Stephanie holds a BS in psychology from the University of Arizona and an MA in community psychology from the University of New Haven.
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