The Education Dept. (DoEd) publishes new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth and the school districts who teach them, transition back to traditional school settings.
The resources include a guide written for incarcerated youth; a newly updated transition toolkit and resource guide for practitioners in juvenile justice facilities; a document detailing education programs in juvenile justice facilities and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with disabilities.
“It is in the interest of every community to help incarcerated youth who are exiting the juvenile justice system build the skills they need to succeed in college and careers and to become productive citizens,” said DoEd Secy. John King. “Unfortunately, many barriers can prevent justice-involved youth from making a successful transition back to school.
These resources are focused on helping justice-involved youth make a successful transition back to traditional school and avoid the dangerous cycle of further delinquency and recidivism. The resources promote successful transitions by emphasizing the importance of early planning and working with family, mentors, facility staff and school employees at every stage of the process.
The issue is significant. More than 50,000 people under the age of 21 are confined in juvenile justice facilities on any given day. Upon release more than a quarter of these youth drop out of school within six months, and only 15% of released ninth-graders graduate from high school in four years. Almost half of all youth released from juvenile justice facilities return to confinement within three years.
The “You Got This: Educational Pathways for Youth Transitioning from Juvenile Justice Facilities” packet for empowering justice-impacted youth with the information, tips and resources they need to plan for their future after leaving a facility. The packet provides checklists, guidance, lists of resources, and templates of commonly required documents to help students prepare for a successful re-entry.
The department’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students is releasing an update to its Transition Toolkit. The toolkit brings together strategies, existing practices and updated resources to enable administrators and practitioners with proven, high-quality transition services for students moving in, through and out of the juvenile justice system.
For educators working with justice-impacted youth with disabilities, the Office of Special Education Programs has created a new website (https://goo.gl/q7nkF8) that provides technical assistance to ensure that those students are given the supports they need to successfully transition out of a juvenile justice facility. The website builds on many of the same guiding principles as the Transition Toolkit and offers specific guidance and links to effective resources that can help guide practitioners and families.
Further, the department’s Office for Civil Rights compiled a document that demonstrates some of the challenges faced by youth receiving an education in juvenile justice facilities and the way OCR protects their civil rights. Data indicate that many students in juvenile justice facilities receive fewer hours of instruction, are more likely to have their teacher be absent, and are less likely to have access to math and science courses than students in the traditional school system.
Through the Second Chance Pell pilot program, the Obama administration has helped nearly 12,000 incarcerated students access postsecondary education and training. These initiatives build off of recommendations from the Federal Interagency Reentry Council and the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, which have both emphasized the importance of helping justice-involved youth transition back to traditional school settings.