Community Assessment Team and Juvenile Diversion Program



Nearly a third of youth from low-income families fail to earn high school diplomas. One in five youth from low-income families are charged with an adult crime by the age of 24.


The Community Assessment Team (CAT) Juvenile Diversion program is an intervention program for families with children ages 6-18 who are at risk of entering or continuing in the juvenile justice system.

Program Services

CAT Juvenile Diversion is a multi-agency program composed of case managers, alcohol and drug specialists, parent educators, mental health professionals, probation officers, school representatives, and other professionals. These teams provide assessment, prevention, intervention and referral services for at-risk youth and their families. The San Diego County Probation Department contracts with five community-based organizations, including Lifeline Community Services, to provide services vital to at-risk youth.

The goal of CAT Juvenile Diversion is to reduce the number of youth who enter the juvenile justice system or reoffend while on probation. The program achieves this goal by focusing on the unique strengths and needs of each youth served, and the needs of their families. Specific services include:
  • Provide a timely and comprehensive risk and resiliency assessment of youth and their families.
  • Educate youth and families about the juvenile court process and their legal responsibilities.
  • Connect families to available community resources.
  • Develop a strength-based family service plan in partnership with families.
  • Monitor youth and family success and compliance with the family service plan through home visits and follow-up services.
  • Provide crisis intervention 24 hours/7 days per week.
  • Assist communities with identification of unmet needs and the development of necessary support services.
Gender-specific services are also offered as appropriate.

Who We Help

Lifeline’s Community Assessment Team Juvenile Diversion program serves school age youth, ages 6-18, who show signs of risk for entering or continuing in the juvenile justice system. Risk factors that may indicate a need for treatment and services include: chronic behavior problems, truancy related issues, school disciplinary issues, substance abuse problems, and domestic/teen relationship violence issues.


Gonzalo came to Lifeline’s CAT Juvenile Diversion program when he was arrested as a first time offender on a drug use charge. He participated in drug and alcohol abuse workshops and received ongoing support from a Lifeline case manager. According to Gonzalo, “I thought it would be easy just to hang out with some friends, but I was easily influenced…I feel the program has helped me with my self-esteem, my case manager helps me in my communications skills and is very supportive.” Asked about where he sees himself in five years, Gonzalo replies, “having my own car, helping out my family more, and finishing college.” We are proud to know Gonzalo and see his potential as a leader in our community.

Our Impact
Last year 349 youth and their families were served by the CAT Juvenile Diversion program, achieving the following outcomes:
  • 89% of youth clients improved attendance at school as measured by student and parent reports.
  • 87% of youth clients reduced or had no substance use after completion of the program as measured by self-reports and reports from parents.
  • 90% of youth clients had no entry, or re-entry, into the Juvenile Justice System as measured by probation records check three months after case closure.
  • CAT Juvenile Diversion youth provided 74 hours of community service through their participation in the program.

How You Can Help

Your support can make it possible for youth participating in Lifeline’s CAT by donating a wide variety of gift cards such as: Amazon, Walmart, Target, and local grocery stores.