Substance Prevention Alliance of Needham

Needham Youth Diversion Program


Promoting Positive Youth Development:

Community-based prevention, intervention and support


The Needham Youth Diversion Program engages youth by mobilizing community resources to provide support, resources, prevention, and education in order to reduce the risk of being further involved in the juvenile justice system.


The Needham Youth Diversion Program uses a multi-disciplinary model that integrates support from schools, law enforcement, social and mental health services, and community professionals to provide the most comprehensive, effective intervention to prevent formal involvement in the juvenile justice system and to reduce recidivism.

What is the Needham Youth Diversion Program?

Based on respect and relationship-building, the Needham Youth Diversion Program is intended to provide an alternative to juvenile court involvement. Youth who have carried out a minor offense are eligible to complete the program. The goal is to help youth accept responsibility for their actions in a safe environment where they are able to learn from their experience and to reduce the risk of recidivism.

Who does it serve?

Youth ages 14 to 18 who have been faulted with a minor transgression (violation/misdemeanor/transgression/infraction- may need to change this word).

Why Youth Diversion?

Youth Diversion Programs:

  • Help youth avoid the consequences of formal court processing

  • Include collaborative community support

  • Hold youth accountable and help youth accept responsibility for their mistakes

  • Reduce recidivism

  • Create a positive relationship between the Needham Police Department and youth who have transgressed

How is it helpful to our youth and community?

Youth Diversion Programs:

  • Mobilize community resources

  • Aim to gradually lower statistics of youth transgressions

  • Intend to help reduce the negative impact of arrests on youth who would not have otherwise formally entered the juvenile justice system

  • Are more cost-effective:

    • Massachusetts taxpayers spend roughly $50 million each year to confine youth for low-level offenses

    • Researchers conducting cost-benefit analyses of six leading diversion program models found that every $1 spent on diversion produced benefits of $10.60 - $25.60 for the community



Needham Police Department: 781-455-7570

Needham Youth & Family Services: 781-455-7500 Ext. 267 (

Needham Public Health Department: 781-455-7940 (

Riverside Community Care: 1-800-529-5077 or 781-769-8674

For more information please contact:

Kristen Lindley, LCSW
Youth Diversion Program Coordinator


“Youth Diversion will be a crucial building block in the Needham Police Department’s Community Policing approach. It engages parents, youth, police officers, and community partners, and will create an environment which fosters trust and support among all parties.”

- Needham Police Chief

A majority (83.7%) of Needham parents support the development of a Youth Diversion Program

2x as many respondents reported that they would contact law enforcement if Needham had a Youth Diversion Program