By Michaela Sumner
Since the establishment of the county’s juvenile diversion program in 2015, it has maintained a 93.5 percent success rate.
The program, according to Fairfield County Juvenile Court Judge Terre Vandervoort, is one of many established in the past few years in response to new evidence on recidivism prevention. Using that evidence, the court has established the TREK program, a varied-level diversion program. The judge said its namesake was created to describe the journey kids go on in the program.
“The concept of diversion is to say that there is a bucket of youth who are low-risk who do stupid things who may need a few things re-addressed,” she said. “There could be other factors going on.”
The judge named a number of potential factors from a parent dealing with substance abuse to a nasty divorce to a death in the family. In fact, some of the skills the program identifies and builds are sometimes lacking due to a substance abuse problem in the home. Skills range from pro-social to independent living.
“We take for granted pro-social skills,” Vandervoort said. “Some of these youths, as a part of this breakdown from the opiate crisis, the parents have stopped parenting or choose not to parent or are not capable of parenting, and so the youth are not given the natural opportunities most youths get to participate in school, to participate in extracurricular activities.”
In intake and assessment, officials in the program look at what pro-social activities the child is involved in, such as extracurricular activities. More often than not, the child doesn’t have any pro-social activity.