Our Work

SBDI (The Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative)


The Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) works to reduce juvenile justice involvement among youth with mental health needs.


Research shows that youth with mental health needs are more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

  • Schools are one of the primary referral sources to the mental health and juvenile justice systems. 
  • Many children who are arrested in schools have unmet behavioral health needs.
  • Approximately 65% to 70% of youth in juvenile detention have a diagnosable behavioral health condition.

SBDI works with local middle and high schools to:

  • Provide training to help school personnel identify children with behavioral health needs
  • Build connections between schools and effective community-based mental health services, as an alternative to arrest, suspension and/or expulsion
  • Revise schools’ policies and practices to increase capacity for responding to themental health needs of all students

SBDI has served 73 schools across 26 school districts and continues to expand to additional schools each year.  SBDI schools have reduced court referrals by 29% and connected 55% more students to behavioral health services (calls to 2-1-1 Mobile Crisis Intervention Services).

SBDI was initially developed with grant funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network. SBDI implementation is jointly funded and overseen by the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division (CSSD), the State Department of Education (SDE), and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). CHDI is the coordinating center for SBDI.

For more information about SBDI, visit www.ctsbdi.org, read our IMPACT report, download our SBDI Toolkit, or contact Jeana Bracey.

We are currently recruiting schools and districts to participate in SBDI for the 2024-25 school year! To learn more about how your school or district can get involved, contact Project Coordinator Elaine Mancini

Related Publications

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Jeana Bracey, Ph.D. - Associate Vice President of School and Community Initiatives
(860) 679-1524
Yecenia Casiano, MS - Senior Project Coordinator
(860) 679-2336
Rebekah Behan - Senior Project Coordinator
(860) 679-8726
Elaine Mancini, MA - Project Coordinator
(860) 679-6293