Youth Advocacy Foundation YAF

Detention Diversion Advocacy Program

Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Children’s Action Corps

The Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP) of Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps is a voluntary alternative to court-ordered detention, providing young people with community-based support and supervision. The program strives to reduce the number of kids inappropriately detained pretrial, especially young people of color.  While the primary purpose is to assure that children return to court for their court dates, their intensive relationship-based approach also promotes the safe and healthy development of the young people they serve.  DDAP offers programs in the Dorchester, Springfield, and Holyoke juvenile courts.


The DDAP model was developed by Vinny Schiraldi, a protégé of Jerry Miller and brought to Massachusetts by Nichelle Sadler and Ed Kelly.  Mr. Miller, who is widely credited for putting Massachusetts on the map as a leader in juvenile justice, always said that probation officers and DYS workers should sit at the defense table, because they should first and foremost see themselves as advocates for the kids.  DDAP epitomizes that philosophy.  They excel at helping juvenile defendants learn to be accountable by starting with the question of “How can we help you succeed?”


DDAP Youth Advocates provide intensive, one-on-one support to youth in the program to help keep them out of detention and in school. The Youth Advocates accompany youth to court dates, make school visits, and connect clients with jobs and recreational activities. DDAP offers a strength-based approach to supporting youth and their families, linking them to health care, education, counseling, drug treatment, and other resources. DDAP serves over 100 youth each year, and the highly successful model has been replicated in multiple states.  One of DDAP’s greatest strengths is their amazing staff who conduct themselves in a professional manner, embrace the youth development approach, and care deeply about their young clients.