Juvenile Justice Ministry

There are 400,000 11-19 year old youth in San Diego County:

  • Over 125,000 are growing up without a father in their home: They are nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to be incarcerated
  • 14,400 have a parent in prison; they are seven times more likely than their peers to end up behind bars
  • 26,400 are arrested every year

There is a cost to our community when negative statistics become reality. Broken lives and broken families. Dependency on government support. The cost of incarceration and rehabilitation. Worst of all, when these statistics become reality, youth become defined by labels: dropout, convict, prostitute, gang banger.

But when we lock arms to relentlessly pursue youth with the love of Jesus Christ, negative statistics become stories of transformation.

Youth facing the biggest obstacles need the most support. They need a caring and qualified adult who will take the time to listen, learn, and walk with them long term. Youth For Christ connects youth (11-19) who have been incarcerated or had a family member in the system in a one-on-one mentoring relationship with an adult leader. We’ve partnered with the Christian Association of Youth Mentoring (CAYM) for training and resources. Locally in San Diego, this effort is led by the three-person staff team with 30+ combined years of ministry and leadership experience.

Our cluster model is based on research that suggests a combination of one-on-one and group mentoring can bring together the strengths of both approaches:

  • One-to-one mentor-to-youth ratio
  • Three to five mentors form into a cluster to provide peer support
  • Each cluster led by an experienced Lead Mentor who is a volunteer
  • Clusters create opportunity for group mentoring activities such as basketball, homework, and life-skills discussions
  • Model creates capacity by maximizing paid staff hours
  • Growth can be dynamic as mentors gain experience and grow to lead their own clusters

Mentors are recruited through volunteer church-liaisons at partner churches. Each mentor:

  • Makes a minimum one-year commitment
  • Completes over 5 hours of training and a thorough background screening
  • Attends ongoing mentor development accomplished through monthly training
  • Is matched with youth by a thorough interview process refined by CAYM & YFC through decades of experience

Making the mentor match is a multi-step process:

  1. Mentor completes all Youth For Christ screening and training
  2. YFC staff or Lead Mentor interview youth and their guardian
  3. YFC staff or Lead Mentor matches youth and mentor, then holds a meeting with youth, mentor, and guardian where all three sign an agreement and exchange contact information
  4. Mentor and youth begin meeting and youth fills out initial survey
  5. Mentor participates in monthly mentor gatherings for training and coaching