Extended Family partners with Juvenile Diversion Programs to provide students with Extended Family for Kids (EFK) and Extended Leadership Academy (ELA) Programs. Juvenile Diversion Programs are designed to help set children back on a positive path. Some children are ordered to be in the program as part of their probation, while others are sent there for varying lengths of time as part of a school disciplinary action. Regardless of how they came to be involved in the program, the goal is the same: to try to “divert” these children away from a path of destructive choices and behaviors to more positive options which can lead them to lives as successful adults, spouses, parents, employees, and members of their communities.
Juvenile Diversion Programs run year-round and Extended Family offers EFK through the summer for the kids in these programs to teach them how to make healthy life-style choices so they can improve their quality of life emotionally, mentally, and physically. EFK Lessons build self-esteem, ease feelings of shame, ease isolation, decrease stress, address anger issues, and strengthen communication skills, all valuable tools for these children, an under-served segment of our population.
In addition to children involved in these programs being identified as “at-risk,” Extended Family has found through our own surveys that 85% of students in juvenile diversion programs have a loved one who is incarcerated. 59 of the 67 counties in Alabama have this type of program for kids, and we offer our programs in four counties.
During the 2022-23 regular school year, we led EFK groups for more than 270 kids in juvenile diversion programs in the STAR program of Cherokee County, the SPAN program of Etowah County, the Success Academy program of Calhoun County, and DeKalb Youth Service Center (DYSC) of DeKalb County. We offered ELA to another 75 kids involved in the STAR and DYSC programs.
Currently, more than 35 kids are enrolled in EFK programs within juvenile diversion agencies. These students will participate in our nine-lesson curriculum through the summer, which teaches many important messages, but especially the most important message of all, “You matter.”
Extended Family is proud to be a part of this second chance for kids! Our goal is to offer them the extra support they need to be successful. Additional information regarding Juvenile Diversion Programs is available at dys.alabama.gov.