Programming (Diversion) Unit

The Intervention Center


Program Manager
Jodi Benson
JBenson@mcjcohio.org
937-225-4121

Diversion Supervisor and SBIRT Coordinator
Jennifer Heckman
JHeckman@mcjcohio.org
937-225-5837

Education Unit Supervisor
Elizabeth Hale
EHale@mcjcohio.org
937-225-4095

10 & Under Program/Care Coordination Team

This specialized program handles all delinquency and unruly referrals for juveniles aged 10 or younger. The Care Coordination Team (CCT) is made up of a Care Coordinator (Court case manager), a Diversion Officer, a Montgomery County Job and Family Services/ Child Welfare caseworker, and a South Community/Caring for Kids therapeutic case manager. The team members all work together to assist the youth and family using a multi-disciplinary approach.  The CCT evaluates and assesses all areas of a youth’s life, including but not limited to home, school, community, mental health, use of illicit substances, exposure to abuse/ dependency/neglect issues, and provide treatment opportunities where the need is indicated. A case plan is established and the family’s compliance is monitored. This program is designed to prevent referrals, on youth aged 10 and under, from being addressed through the official court process.

Referrals to the 10 & Under Program are received in the same fashion as traditional referrals to the IC. Youth, age 10 and under, charged with any delinquency and/or unruly charge qualifies for acceptance into the program.  The majority of referrals for this program are mailed in by law enforcement; however, parents and guardians can come to the court as a walk-in, or in special cases, the youth might be brought into the Secure Receiving area by law enforcement.

When a parent/guardian is uncooperative with the 10 & Under Program, a dependency filing will be completed against the parent/guardian.  The Juvenile Court Judges will then assist in holding the parent/guardian accountable for their noncompliance.  To reach the 10 & Under Program, please call 937-225-5453.

Disproportionate Minority Contact Diversion Program (DMC/DP)

In the 1988 Amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974, Congress required that States address disproportionate minority contact with the justice systems. Specifically, each state must address efforts to reduce the proportion of youth detained or confined in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, jails, and lockups who are members of minority groups if it exceeds the proportion of such groups in the general population. Montgomery County Juvenile Court created the Disproportionate Minority Contact Diversion Program (DMC/DP) to address that strategy. The DMC/DP Officer meets with youth, family, school officials and other community service agencies, to identify concerns and service needs impacting the youth and family. The program promotes family involvement and links youth and families with community resources and services. The DMC/DP Officer will track the youth’s progress, including the program’s impact on the youth and family. These services are provided in a community setting (e.g., schools, community centers, Dayton Metro Library, etc.) in lieu of coming to the Juvenile Court building. The goal is to divert minority youth from becoming identified with the juvenile justice system, thus creating linkages between the families and community while reducing referrals from local law enforcement to the Court. DMC/DP serves African American youth, referred to the Court for the first time, on a status or misdemeanor offense. To reach the DMC/DP, please call 937-224-8446.

Traditional Diversion

Studies show that mixing low-risk youth with high-risk youth increases the probability of a youth further penetrating the juvenile justice system. As a result, the Traditional Diversion Unit was developed. This unit serves as another layer of prevention used to divert low risk youth from official action and probation supervision. Cases in this unit are provided a higher level of case management than those cases in the Assessment Unit, and are supervised for a longer duration of time. The Traditional Diversion Unit typically receives cases that were: filed officially, but were sent back to the Intervention Center by the Judge or Magistrate for unofficial handling; cases that were non-compliant with the Assessment Unit; and cases that involve a youth who has accumulated several referrals with the Court and has exhausted interventions offered in the Assessment Unit but scored low on the OYAS Dispositional tool. Traditional Diversion staff utilizes Motivational Interviewing while maintaining in-depth case management. Staff conducts school visits, along with random home and therapeutic visits, and initiates referrals to programming and services. Cases that are successful are closed out without official court action and sealed. Unsuccessful cases are sent to the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s office for review.

Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

SBIRT is designed to identify individuals that may have a substance abuse issue and provide immediate intervention. Youth charged for the first time, with drug or alcohol related offenses are eligible for participation. Youth meeting the criteria are scheduled for an unofficial Administrative Hearing and screened using the Global Appraisal Individual Needs Short Screener (GAIN-SS) and Reclaiming Futures strength based survey (RF SBS). These tools are used to identify strengths, behavioral health symptoms, goals, indications of internal and external distress and substance use symptoms/disorders. Motivational interviewing and referral to appropriate treatment are the main interventions utilized.  A youth’s success is measured by participation in SBIRT sessions, urinalysis screenings, and completion of programming and/or assessments.

Sexually Oriented Diversion Approach (SODA)

The SODA Program provides a diversionary intervention for youth charged with their first sexually oriented offense. SODA offers youth an opportunity to avoid the negative stigma and label associated with the sex offender adjudication process, while still receiving the same level of care. The SODA staff ensures the appropriate assessments, treatment, and level of supervision is provided to each youth in the program. Judges, Magistrates and the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s office only send referrals to the program, in which the youth takes ownership of the allegations and the victim has approved of the youth’s participation in the program. Each youth referred will be assessed with either the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol (JSOAP-II) or the Protective + Risk Observations For Eliminating Sexual Offense Recidivism (PROFESOR) to determine risk and level of care. Only low and moderate risk youth are eligible for participation in this specialized program. All youth active in the program receive psycho-education on the topics of boundaries and consent. The goals of the program and treatment are to provide skills for a healthy and responsible lifestyle and reduce the risk for recidivism. To reach the SODA Program, please call 937-225-4047.

 Education Unit

The Education Unit staff responds to truancy related referrals from 16 local public school districts, and several online, charter and parochial schools within Montgomery County. In previous years, educational referrals were handled separately by the Court. The Probation Department’s Start Right Program addressed education related cases referred on adults. Legal guardians who have custody of a child age 6 to 10 years old (generally K-5th grade), referred to the Court for a Failure To Send or Non-enrollment charge were seen on an official docket by a Judge. Youth, age 11 to 18 years old (generally 6th through 12th grade), referred to the Court for a Truancy charge were handled in the Intervention Center’s Truancy Court. Start Right and Truancy Court merged into one Education Unit in 2019 to create a family approach to school attendance. This programming shift allows for the Court to provide support to both the legal guardian and the youth, at the same time, and better serve the family as a whole.

The Education Unit conducts unofficial Administrative Hearings to address the attendance issues, and identify the barriers of the youth and family. An unofficial Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) response was also initiated in 2019, which provides the opportunity for the Court to partner with the school systems, mental health agencies, insurance providers, and community programming. Through these unofficial Administrative Hearings and MDT Hearings, the Education Unit is able to obtain a comprehensive assessment of the entire family’s needs. The core issues that factored into the educational referrals are identified, and families are linked to the supportive services that will ultimately contribute to their sustainable success. The program gives both adult and youth referrals a diversionary opportunity to address educational referrals. Services and sanctions by the Court are recommended, in hopes of making the child’s educational future successful with improved attendance. Services that can be offered to the families include, but are not limited to, mental health assessments, Alcohol or other Drug (AOD) assessments, AOD groups, drug screens, anger management groups, educational life skills/preventative groups, in home family counseling, life coaching, employment resources, housing resources, basic needs resources, mentoring, credit recovery programs, alternative educational programs and community service.

The Education Advocates provide in-depth case management, maintain biweekly/monthly contact with youth, parent and school representatives, conduct regular school visits, along with random home and therapeutic visits, attend all Court hearings, initiate referrals to programming and services, and complete individual case summaries for each youth and/or guardian. The Education Unit staff monitors compliance, provides crisis intervention, and uses Motivational Interviewing techniques to assist in removing barriers for the family to ultimately improve the youth’s attendance. The goal of the program is to reduce the rate of habitual absenteeism by giving support to parents, and assistance in combatting the many societal issues that result in poor school attendance. In the event that a referral is non-compliant or unsuccessful with the diversion attempt, a complaint will be filed against the responsible party, and the charge will be set on the Judges docket for an official hearing.