Court Diversion Program For Youth

A Program Aimed at Instilling Empathy

spcaLA’s Court Diversion Program for Youth is a humane education option for diversion-eligible and other justice system-involved youth. Through a series of guided activities and group dialogue, participants develop and practice patience and empathy for people and animals. The program’s social-emotional learning and humane education curriculum focuses on empathy development, healthy communication and coping skills, conflict resolution, and hands-on positive reinforcement training with shelter dogs. The program is modeled after spcaLA’s Teaching Love and Compassion (TLC)™ program, which has been offered in schools and community-based settings since 1996.


A team of humane educators lead this intensive, two-day, 16-hour class with a maximum of six youth participants per session. Each day includes verbal and written exercises, group activities, time spent with shelter animals, and hands-on dog training. Each participant is paired with one shelter dog to work with for the duration of the program.  All dogs are medically and behaviorally screened prior to participation. Classes are held at spcaLA in Long Beach and Hawthorne on a rotating basis.* Eligible youth may count program completion towards community service hours, if needed.

*Please note: this program is being offered in-person with COVID-19 safety measures in place, and is currently being offered at spcaLA’s Long Beach location only.


• 10-17 years old at time of the offense;
• Has been personally involved in or impacted by one or more of the following (which may or may not be directly tied to the offense):

  • Animal cruelty
  • Bullying/harassment
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic violence

Youth may be referred by hearing officers, probation officers, juvenile diversion case managers, or other professionals involved with the juvenile justice system who decide to use the program as part of a minor’s diversion plan. The referring party should complete the entire Referral Form and email it to the Violence Prevention & Humane Education Department, or submit the referral through our website here. After confirming eligibility, staff will be in direct contact with the youth in order to be scheduled into the next available session. Referrals are returned to the referring party if/when the youth completes or fails to complete the program.



For more information, please contact:

Violence Prevention & Humane Education Department, spcaLA
(562) 216-2545 | (323) 353-4146