The City of Falls Church Police Department and the Center for Youth and Family Advocacy (CYFA) have partnered to bring youth restorative practices to the City of Falls Church. Through the Promoting Empathy through Equitable Resolution (PEER) program, City Police and CYFA are transforming systemic responses to adolescent harm through community-based initiatives that aim to prevent young people from entering the legal system and improve public safety.
City Police officers can offer PEER to youth from ages 10 to 17 who have engaged in harmful behavior that would amount to a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony. There is no residency requirement for referral into PEER and participation is entirely voluntary.
“Officers of the Falls Church Police Department understand the privilege and responsibility that comes with serving this amazing community,” said Chief Mary Gavin. “We stand boldly in our commitment to justice, fairness, and equality, and we stand proudly with CYFA in our collective work of achieving accountability through empathy and compassion for victims and young people involved.”
PEER employs practices to go beyond punishment. The program holds young people who commit harm accountable for their actions without exposing them to the risks of a criminal record, provides victims an opportunity to be actively involved in the resolution of their case, and promotes community safety through meaningful reintegration.
The process brings together the victim, the wrongdoer, and the community through facilitated dialogue. It empowers victims by providing a voice in the outcome and an opportunity to heal, enables wrongdoers to learn from their mistakes and make amends, and allows the community to affirm its values and re-invest in its members.
CYFA and FCPD will engage in robust data collection to evaluate the manner in which PEER is utilized and to inform programming. CYFA will analyze and report on outcomes twice per year.
CYFA has developed a comprehensive curriculum focused on the legal system, power, identity, trauma, and restorative practice. This curriculum is used to train youth facilitators to work closely with experienced restorative practitioners in developing case-specific conferencing plans. CYFA recognizes the important role youth play in our community, and it endeavors to instill youth leaders with the agency, confidence, skill, knowledge, and empathy necessary to create a just legal system.
CYFA is a nonprofit organization that works to transform the fabric of family and community through restorative practices, education, and advocacy. CYFA employs collaborative approaches to create comprehensive solutions to the complex issues of racial and social justice. CYFA’s cross-system prevention initiatives are research-based and mission-focused: CYFA works to disrupt systemic oppression to create healthy and equitable outcomes for young people and families.