WASHINGTON — A new set of resources from the federal Education Department aims to help justice-involved youth transition back into school and avoid further offenses.
The department released Friday a guide for students and an updated transitions toolkit for administrators and practitioners who work with youth, emphasizing for both the importance of early reentry planning.
For more information, check out the JJIE Resource Hub | Re-entry
Research has found successful transitions back to school can increase the likelihood youth graduate from high school and reduce recidivism. But too few justice-involved youth do transition successfully: More than a quarter drop out of school within six months and half of youth released from juvenile justice facilities are locked up again within three years, the department said.
In addition, fewer than half of states track outcomes for youth, only 11 states have staff dedicated to public school reentry, and many justice-involved youth across the country are re-enrolled in alternative schools, many of which have poorer student outcomes than traditional schools, according to the department.
“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,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said in a news release. “Unfortunately, many barriers can prevent justice-involved youth from making a successful transition back to school. We want to use every tool we have to help eliminate barriers for all students and ensure all young people can reach their full potential.”
The “You Got This” transition guide gives students information on school choice and a re-enrollment checklist, along with a Student Bill of Rights and information on filing a civil rights complaint.
The department recommended that those who work with youth provide the guide to juveniles as soon as they enter the justice system, so they can begin preparing immediately for reentry into their community.
The department also released a technical assistance website on improving outcomes for justice-involved youth with disabilities, and a fact sheet on education in juvenile justice facilities and students’ civil rights while housed in them.