The DAO has 22 youth diversion programs, some of which are more active than others. They are designed to help young people with minor offenses related to delinquency behavior and substance abuse avoid criminal courts. Potential candidates are flagged by assistant prosecutors based on daily police reports assessed by a community youth welfare panel and offer the opportunity to participate in a program rather than appearing before a judge. Ultimately, the young people can have their criminal record deleted.
DAO Youth Diversion Program Coordinator Jordan King said this partnership with PAEP is the first diversion program to be based on artistic engagement.
“Most of our work is data and research oriented. The study shows the effects of art teaching on students’ cognitive, social and emotional development, ”said King. “Because our distraction goals are to connect teens with opportunities that facilitate skills development in soft skills, independent living skills, moral reasoning skills, academic skills, and job development skills, PAEP is a perfect fit for our goals. “
The After School Art Diversion program is a pilot with a research component where participants can agree to conduct surveys during the process to determine success. If, after one year, Schaeffer can present data that substantiate the project work, the PCCD can extend the program for a further year.
Just two weeks later, she is already seeing positive signs.
“We currently have three students moving through the program,” said Schaeffer. “We find out that they are engaged. They come to every single class. They actually enjoy themselves. “