Investing in Juvenile Diversion: A Path Towards a Brighter Future

By Paula Johnson Hall, LPC, LAC, NCC


As winter settles upon our community, the team at YouthZone is excited to share the incredible work we continue to do in the realm of juvenile diversion. I am Paula Hall, YouthZone’s Clinical Director, and I have personally witnessed the transformative power of giving young people a second chance.

At YouthZone, we firmly believe that diversion is a much more effective approach than detainment. By redirecting young lives away from the court system, we create a space for growth, learning, and healing within our community. This approach benefits not only the youth but also their families and the community at large.

So, what does juvenile diversion look like in action? It all begins with an intake session, where a Youth Advocate meets with the young person and their parents. This initial meeting allows us to gain insight into the challenges the youth is facing and the factors contributing to their problematic behaviors. By delving into their experiences, such as past trauma, substance use, or family conflicts, we can truly understand their journey.

Armed with this knowledge, our Youth Advocates work closely with the youth to craft a comprehensive plan tailored to their unique needs. This plan, known as a “contract of services,” outlines the specific steps the young person will take to redirect their path and embrace a brighter future. From participation in substance education groups to life skills workshops, individual or family therapy, and even engaging in useful public service, a diverse range of tools are employed to foster positive change.

One particularly impactful aspect of our approach is what we refer to as an “expressive project.” By encouraging self-expression through art forms like painting, writing, poetry, woodworking, or dance, we provide a creative outlet for young people to explore their emotions. These projects allow for personal growth and enable participants to discover new coping skills that prove invaluable when faced with difficult events or overwhelming emotions.

At YouthZone, our mission extends beyond simply diverting juvenile offenders from the justice system. We strive to empower these young individuals to learn from their past behaviors and build a future of success. Through collaborations with local school districts, police and sheriff departments, and various community support networks, we create an environment where growth and transformation are possible.

Acknowledging the holistic nature of youth rehabilitation, we also extend our services to support families. By strengthening the familial support system, we aim to create a stable and nurturing environment at home that aids in the positive development of our youth.

We take immense pride in the work we do at YouthZone and the significant impact it has on our community. Our approach focuses on early intervention and prevention, setting young people on a path toward self-improvement and avoiding the pitfalls of the justice system. The statistics speak for themselves: diversion is not only more effective but also more cost-efficient than detention.

So, if you or someone you know has a young person who could benefit from our services, please reach out to us at YouthZone. Together, let’s create a brighter future for our youth, one diversion at a time.


YouthZone is a family-first nonprofit that supports parents and guardians, families, and adolescents. From Aspen to Parachute, we offer parent counseling and education services, family resources, and comprehensive assessment and advocacy to inspire healthy relationships between youth, families, and communities. To learn more about how YouthZone can help, please call us at 970-945-9300.

Paula Johnson Hall is an experienced leader with a dedicated focus on improving the lives of young people, families, and communities. Her professional experience includes working in multiple community settings: hospitals, public schools, crisis response, foster care programming, and substance use disorder treatment. In addition to community building and support, Paula has worked with employee assistance programs, residential treatment centers, multiple military installations, and other contract and private practice work. Paula loves living in the RFV, and tries to spend as much time outside as possible. – Paula holds a B.S. in Psychology and Criminology from Arkansas State University, M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Southwestern University, and completed the required post-graduate clinical studies at Henderson State University. She also holds a certification in Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis in diversity, equity, and inclusion from Rice University. Her professional credentials include: Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) in Arkansas and Colorado, Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), Distance Credentialed Counselor, and she is a Nationally Credentialed Counselor (NCC).