If you consent to working with Youth-LED Justice, the picture below depicts what the process of a harm circle will entail. This process typically lasts 3 to 4 months. Continue reading to learn more about our process flow step-by-step!
What is an intake?
An intake is the initial meeting that takes place between a youth, a youth's guardian(s), and a YLJ staff member. This meeting lasts between 45 minutes to an hour, and is a space dedicated to learning about one another, discussing restorative justice, introducing YLJ's process and how it can best meet a youth where they are at, and learning about the harm that was caused.
Youth-Led Justice is a voluntary, restorative diversion program. Voluntary meaning that a youth and their guardian(s) ultimately decide wether or not they want to work with us. This intake meeting is to help us all figure out if this is the best alternative option for a youth.
What is a restorative circle?
If a youth and their guardian(s) decide to move forward with Youth-Led Justice, the youth, with the help of the staff facilitator and their guardian(s), decides who should be at the circle. The concrete goal of the circle is to collectively create a restorative plan that the youth (the respondent) is responsible for completing by their check out date.
Our job as staff facilitators is to make it as easy as possible for complex people to do the complex work of shaping change together (source: adrienne maree brown). The immediate change we are working towards is creating a restorative plan that repairs the harm caused. We repair harm through deepening relationships, utilizing the unique strengths, and building knowledge, skills and resources between and within circle participants. The longterm change we are working towards is growing participant's emotional intelligence and connecting them to resources so that when conflict occurs in a youth's life again, the youth and their community of care can manage conflict in a way that does not create more harm.
What is prep?
Before the circle takes place, the YLJ staff facilitator meets with each circle participant individually to help prepare them for the upcoming restorative circle. There are a few purposes to this meeting:
What does a conversation in an myc restorative circle entail?
Conversations within a YLJ restorative circle are organic and shaped by circle participants. Each person's participation in a circle is different, and each conversation taking place in a restorative circle are also different.
The purpose of the circle is not to place blame or shame on any member. Rather, our conversations are shaped by discussing who has been hurt, what are their needs, who is responsible for mending the caused harm, and how circle participants can move towards the vision / intention(s) that are discussed in the circle.
Some questions the facilitators will ask can be seen to the left. These questions help with conversation flow and keep circles on track to reaching the immediate and longterm change as described above under the section "What is a restorative circle? Who might attend a YLJ restorative circle?".
What is a restorative plan?
A restorative plan is what circle participants create so that the youth (respondent) can hold themselves accountable. Accountability cannot be forced upon individuals. Rather individuals have to first decide to hold themselves accountable (which a youth does when consenting to work with us) and then further practice accountability (which is done when a youth completes the restorative plan).
The creation of the restorative plan is what concludes the YLJ restorative circle. It is created by circle participants, not facilitators. Once the restorative plan is created, the youth (respondent) has 3 months to complete these accountability measures. The restorative plan is created through 2 lenses:
What are monthly check ins?
Monthly check ins are shorter, one-on-one meetings between a YLJ staff facilitator and the youth. These meetings are intended for checking in with the youth and to see how they are doing in terms of progress with the goals they set at the Restorative Circle.
Check ins are informal, and their purpose is to celebrate the accountability the youth has already taken, and further to assess any unmet needs a youth has that will hinder their process in completing the restorative plan.
What is a check out?
A check out is the last meeting held between the youth, their guardian(s), and the YLJ staff facilitator. In this final meeting, the youth will review the restorative plan and share thoughts, feelings, and anything they learned and/or gained from this experience. The youth's guardians will also share their thoughts, feelings, and feedback, as will the YLJ staff facilitator.
Once this part of the meeting is done, the YLJ staff facilitator will explain next steps, will share completion letter with youth's referral source, and will further send this letter to the youth, their guardian(s), and anyone else whom they think relevant.
Lastly, we take time to celebrate the youth and their guardian(s) because this process is not easy. It is hard being vulnerable, it is hard asking for what you need, and it is hard to let oneself feel and share their emotions. We take time to celebrate and honor where we have been, where we are, and where we are continuing forward.