CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Bureau for Children and Families today announced the application period for the Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation Program, designed to support both youth offenders and victims of crime. Part of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s comprehensive juvenile justice reform, the program is open for legal entities interested in offering Restorative Justice programming and Victim Offender Mediation services.
Mediation programs are voluntary and connect youth offenders with individuals affected by their crimes. The Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation program is designed to support the healing process for victims of crime by providing a safe, controlled environment to meet and speak directly with their offenders. In addition, it allows offenders to understand the impact their crimes have on the lives of the victims, encouraging them to take responsibility for their behavior. The goal of the programs is to ultimately aid in the development of a mutually accepted plan by both the victim and the offender to address and mend harm caused by the crime.
“Adding these programs to support our state’s kids as part of our ongoing juvenile justice efforts will help keep our kids out of the courtroom and provide opportunities for them to be part of our state’s bright future,” Gov. Tomblin said. “These programs will improve outcomes for West Virginia youth and families and give them the resources they need to achieve success in the Mountain State.”
West Virginia’s Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation Program will target youth ages 12-18 who: 1) have been charged—or are at-risk of being charged—with a status offense in which a clear victim is present, 2) have been charged—or at risk of being charged—with a misdemeanor and 3) have been referred to the program by their school, Juvenile Probation Officer, another court official or local DHHR office.
“This Restorative Justice program will provide trained victim-sensitive, victim-offender mediators and case managers to serve West Virginia’s youth, families and communities,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling. “Applicants for the Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation program can help us achieve our ongoing mission to keep children in their home communities so they can be safe, healthy and successful.”
The Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation program is limited to legal entities with experience working with at-risk juveniles and their families throughout their involvement in the juvenile justice system. Initial grants will be for the period of February 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016. Renewal of these grants will be contingent on continued funding and grantee performance.
Application deadline is December 21, 2015. Visit http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/bcf/ for more information