Youth Services

Youth Substance Awareness and Safety Program (YSASP)

YSASP provides an alternative to the civil court process for youth (anyone under the age of 18) who violate Vermont’s underage alcohol and/or marijuana laws. YSASP helps young people understand the impact of using substances on themselves and others. The program helps lower the risk of future use, while connecting those identified as high-risk levels to professional substance use clinicians. Individuals referred to the YSASP program will complete a screening. Information gained through the process will be used to engage the youth on a brief, educational intervention. If the youth is under the age of 18, parent permission is necessary.

Please follow this link to Vermont Court Diversion’s YSASP webpage for further info about the program.

Youth Restorative Justice and Court Diversion Panels:

The area of the brain that controls “executive functions” – including long-term consequences and impulse control – is among the last to fully mature. Trauma can also delay development of the brain in areas that are vital for relationships, learning, memory, reward, and reinforcement.

According to Louis Cozolino in Social Neuroscience of Education, “The interactions we have with others directly affect the receptivity of the brain to take in new experiences and learn from them.” This knowledge guides how we work with youth in our Youth Restorative Justice Panel process. Our volunteers are young themselves and create a welcoming environment with clear expectations.

Here are examples of creative and relevant ways youth have addressed the impact of their actions on the community:


Weapon or Drugs at School?
Fight at School?

Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ):

BARJ provides restorative interventions for youth involvement in the juvenile justice system. When youth are at risk of involvement in the system, BARJ aims to reduce and eliminate their further involvement. For youth already involved in the system, BARJ provides opportunities to decrease their risk factors and strengthen known protective factors. Through a unique collaboration with the Burlington CJC, BARJ case management and restorative services are shared with the VT Department of Children and Families and Spectrum Youth and Family Services.


Restorative Practices in Schools

The Burlington CJC collaborates with the Burlington School District to support a whole-district implementation of Restorative Practices. This work is guided by the following principles:

  • Acknowledges that relationships are central

  • Ensures equity of voice

  • Emphasizes actions “with,” not “to” or “for”

  • Enhances accountability, responsibility, and empowers growth

  • Supports active engagement and collaborative problem solving

  • Repairs the harm, rather than focusing on punishment.


When things go wrong on campus, we require a paradigm shift in our response:

Traditional Response 

  • School and rules violated

  • Justice focuses on establishing guilt

  • Accountability is punishment

  • Driven by wrongdoer, affected party ignored

  • Rules and intent outweigh whether outcome is positive or negative for parties involved

Restorative Response

  • People and relationships violated

  • Justice identifies needs and obligations

  • Accountability is repairing harm

  • All directly-involved parties have a role

  • Wrongdoer is responsible for choices, repairing harm, and working towards a positive outcome


The BCJC provides Restorative Practice (RP) trainings for staff and faculty and participates on their RP implementation teams. One recent collaboration is our partnership with Burlington High School in identifying and training student leaders who can volunteer on Restorative Justice Youth Panels at the school. This is a great way to increase student voice, learn restorative skills, and give other students a second chance. Students also receive community service hours for any training or service they complete through the BCJC. Additionally, they are included in a pool of volunteers to respond to incidents on campus throughout the year. These panels will take place after school during the year and are an alternative to suspensions.


For more information about our Youth Services, please contact Kelly Ahrens, Youth Restorative Programs Manager at (802)865-7169 or

Social Discipline Window 

adapted by Paul McCold & Ted Wachtel

200 Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401

(802) 865-7155

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