At-Risk Youth Diversion Programs Underway in Counties

With juvenile crime on the rise in Maryland, counties are making an effort to keep up with the growing needs of vulnerable youth in communities.

The Montgomery County Police Department spent a day on the water sharing the joys of fishing with kids from the Street Outreach Networks Youth Program. This activity and others like it are an example of cross-departmental collaborations in the counties to help offer enrichment and diversion opportunities for children found to be susceptible to criminal influence. The Montgomery County Department of Human Services administers these programs with the goal to prevent hostile behavior in high risk youth and youth gangs through the development of positive relationships between youth and county organizations.

These partnerships are not limited to law enforcement, but can be established with the local parks and recreation department, schools, and local health departments. Prince George’s is a great example of a county using recreational space for diversion activities like late night programming in community centers across 17 locations in the jurisdiction during the summer months. Keeping youth engaged and active, particularly during the evenings when they are more likely to be recruited into rebellious or criminal activities, offers an opportunity for protection and enrichment.