The Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) is designed to reduce juvenile justice involvement among youth with emotional or behavioral health challenges.
As juvenile arrests are generally declining in Connecticut and nationwide, arrests of youth occurring in schools are a growing concern. Many of these arrests are for minor and non-violent offenses that result in exclusionary discipline in the form of suspension, expulsion, or arrest. Research indicates that youth with mental health needs and youth of color experience disproportionately higher rates of exclusionary discipline.
SBDI is a school-level initiative that engages teachers, staff, administrators, and school resource officers through consultation, expert training, and capacity building activities. SBDI is an effective strategy to increase access for students and families to mental health prevention supports and treatment services in the school and local community.
SBDI was initially developed with grant funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network, facilitated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. SBDI implementation is jointly funded and overseen by four state agencies: the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division (CSSD), the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), the State Department of Education (SDE), and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI) is the coordinating center for SBDI.