CENTINELA YOUTH SERVICES (CYS)
a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-based organization, was founded in the Centinela Valley in 1975 to provide youth counseling; physical and mental health, academic, and developmental intervention; and juvenile crime prevention services. In the mid-90s, due to the strong outcomes achieved by the youth served, CYS services were expanded into many of Los Angeles County’s high-needs communities.
Centinela Youth Services strengthens families and communities and helps build successful students and productive adults, leveraging the principles of restorative justice to empower peaceful conflict resolution. We are committed to ending the institutionalized practices in schools and justice systems that are primarily responsible for maintaining the school-to-prison pipeline, and disproportionately impact youth of color.
Our vision is to use the principles of Restorative Justice and Trauma-Informed Care to empower youth, families, and crime victims to become accountable, to heal and to realize their full potentials.
In 1973, officers of the Inglewood Police Department recognized a serious community problem: when they responded to calls, many of the young people they were interacting with were being arrested when instead they should have been receiving counseling and support. The officers attempted to connect the offending youth with appropriate services, but as the scope and breadth of the problem grew, it became apparent that an organization dedicated to helping youth and families in high-needs communities was needed. In 1975, Centinela Youth Services (CYS) was established to achieve this purpose. Originally administered by the city of Inglewood, CYS services quickly expanded to include support for youth and families in the cities of Lawndale, Hawthorne, Gardena, and Lennox. In 1995, juvenile court jurisdictions from across Los Angeles County began to refer youth to CYS. Its Victim Offender Restitution Services (VORS) program was recognized as a national model in Restorative Justice in 2014.
In 2011, with a $1 million grant from the Everychild Foundation, CYS launched the Everychild Restorative Justice Center (ERJC) next to the Inglewood Juvenile Court. The ERJC provides intensive clinical case management and comprehensive community-based intervention programming to divert youth from the juvenile court system. In 2012, thanks to a $1 million
Title II grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections and the advocacy of members of the Everychild Foundation, a second center was established in South Los Angeles. Modeled after the successful Miami-Dade Youth Assessment Center in Florida, CYS’s Juvenile Arrest Diversion Program (JADP) is the first pre-booking juvenile diversion program in the state of California. These innovative CYS services are again expanding, and currently a new Restorative Justice Center is in development to provide access to pre-arrest diversion services for youth in the San Fernando Valley.
Our Programs, Services, and Training:
Each year, as many as 2,500 youth participate in the opportunities and second chances CYS services provide. In addition to its Everychild Restorative Justice Centers and Juvenile Arrest Diversion Program, CYS offers the following services and training:
The Victim Offender Restitution Program (VORS), provides mediation and restitution facilitation between youth who’ve committed and offense and the victim of that offense.
Families Able to Resolve Situations (FARS) provides mediation and case management for families in conflict.
Students Able to Resolve Situations (STARS) Clubs provide conflict resolution training for students and mentoring for peer mediation programs in elementary, middle and high schools.
Student - Police Dialogues facilitate group conversations between students and police/law enforcement officers that promote greater mutual understanding, empathy and cooperation.
The CYS Community Volunteer Mediation Program, provides dispute resolution specialist training to community volunteers preparing to facilitate VORS and FARS mediations
Counseling and Resource Services (CARS) supports referred youth and families with trauma-informed case management, professional counseling, and mental health and substance abuse referrals.
Restorative Justice and Youth Development Training for Professionals, supported through the generosity of the Ahmanson Foundation, increases recognition and system-wide application of restorative justice principles within the juvenile justice, law enforcement and educational systems.
For more detailed information, please click the “Our Programs” tab or click here.
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice encourages the members of a community most affected by a crime to participate in a mediation process that empowers victims, holds responsible parties accountable, and works to repair the community as a whole. Led by a community mediator, Restorative Justice mediations bring offender and victim together, face-to-face, and allow humanity into the justice system. It’s an empowered victim being able to look their offender in the eye and say, “this is the harm you did to me.” It’s a teenaged girl telling her mediator about the positive changes she had made in her life because of the program, and saying, “…even if no else makes a change, at least I can say is that I made the change, and I am going to improve my life.” Restorative Justice provides the opportunity for victims to forgive, communities to heal, and offending youth to turn their lives around. Multiple studies of restorative justice programs, including the programs at CYS, demonstrate that youthful offenders who participate in restorative justice reduce future involvement in the juvenile justice systems.
CYS Restorative Justice Centers (RJCs) serve youth and families through a trauma-informed lens. Trauma-informed care is a treatment framework that acknowledges the widespread impacts of trauma on the quality of life, experiences and behaviors of youth and families. Youth and families referred to CYS receive assessment for the signs of trauma followed by responsive services and programs that encourage resilience and build skills for active resistance to re-traumatization.
CYS provides its unique community-based services for referred youth and families from cities across much of Los Angeles County.
Inclusion of CYS’s Victim Offender Restitution Services in the National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices administered by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2014.
Recognition of CYS by California State Assemblymember Autumn Burke as California Nonprofit of the Year for the 62nd Assembly District, 2016
Selection of CYS in 1995 by the LA County Probation Department and the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Courts to operate a countywide Restorative Justice program, and the establishment of the LA County VORS Collaboration Team, chaired by the Presiding Judge of Juvenile Court, every year since
Appointment of CYS Director to the State Safe Schools Plan taskforce by State Attorney General Bill Lockyer
Acknowledgement of CYS’s youth mediation programs, by five sponsoring city councils, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, City Councils countywide, and the California Legislature
Judicial Council of California recognition of the VORS program as a model victim/offender mediation program proven to cut rates of post service participation re-offense by at least 50% without confinement or criminalization.
Selection for multiple annual commendations and awards by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for CYS staff, volunteers, and youth in recognition of their exemplary performance and commitment.
For more information please contact Centinela Youth Services, Inc. at cys-la.org, 310.970.7702.