More than two million youth under the age of 18 are arrested in the United States every year. Youth who are incarcerated may be subject to various negative circumstances, including overcrowding, violence, trauma, risk of suicide, and death. (


Lifeline’s Alternatives to Detention program works to intervene with youth who are referred for services by the juvenile justice system as an alternative to incarceration. 


The Alternatives to Detention program supports youth referred by law enforcement, the probation department, or juvenile court. These are youth who have been, or are about to be placed in detention, but do not present a flight risk or danger to the community. The program provides crisis intervention, case management, mentoring, mental health therapy, and temporary placement in short-term foster care.


Lifeline’s Alternatives to Detention program serves youth aged 11-18, who have been arrested and are not eligible for Juvenile Diversion within the North County Costal area. 


Nathan was referred to Lifeline’s Alternatives to Detention program by the juvenile court who felt that he needed counseling and support rather than being detained as a first time offender in juvenile hall. At just 13 years old, Nathan was heavily influenced by his friends and had trouble saying no when they pulled him into bad situations. After joining Alternatives to Detention, he began to engage with his case manager and committed himself to the program. Nathan tells us that Alternatives to Detention taught him new ways to express himself without aggression, to understand the triggers of his angry behavior, and to step back to see how drug use was affecting him and his family. He says that the support of Lifeline’s counseling group gave him an alternative to the influence of his friends. Nathan is now one more kid on his way toward a crime-free and productive future. 


Last year the Alternatives to Detention program served 124 youth with the following outcomes:

  • 76% of youth clients improved attendance at school as measured by student and parent reports.


  • 82% of youth clients reduced or had no substance use after completion of the program as measured by self-reports and reports from parents.


  • 72% of youth reported Improved grades while in Alternatives to Detention


  • Youth participating in Alternatives to Detention provided 120 hours of community service.



Donations of movies, board games for teens, and tickets for family outings (Movies/Restaurants/Amusement Parks/Museums) would help support the families through this program. 



The CHOICE program design is a nationally recognized model that is based on best practices and evidence-based principles. CHOICE provides intensive supervision through multiple daily contacts to support youth and guide them to make positive choices while working with them to complete court order mandates and reach case plan goals with the assigned Deputy Probation Officer, regional clinician, and other community providers as part of a multi-disciplinary team. The program targets youth who are on probation and need additional services to reduce violations, strengthen family relationships and increase resiliency factors. Services include, but are not limited to, home visits, school visits, mentoring, recreational activities, educational support and life skills development.