Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth

Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth

The U.S. Department of Education has released new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth make a successful transition back to traditional school settings. These 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 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 from the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection; and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with disability as they transition out of juvenile justice facilities. These documents supplement the Department's school discipline and correctional education guidance packages, along with the Second Chance Pell pilot program and the Department's effort to help colleges and universities think Beyond The Box and abandon the approach of inquiring about applicants' criminal histories.

Read the letter from Secretary John King on the importance of providing high quality transition support to youth leaving juvenile justice facilities.

You Got This – Educational Pathways for Youth in Transition

The guide [PDF, 338KB] is designed to empower 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.

Transition Toolkit 3.0: Meeting the Educational Needs of Youth Exposed to the Juvenile Justice System

The Department's Office of Safe and Healthy Students has released the third edition of its Transition Toolkit [PDF, 12MB], prepared by The National Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Neglected or Delinquent Children and Youth Disclaimer. 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. The Toolkit includes information at various phases through the transition process from entry to release, as well as best practices, legal considerations, and various opportunities for justice-impacted youth after exiting a juvenile justice facility. It also includes guiding principles for effectively supporting justice-impacted youth, specific practices for implementing those guiding principles, and structured guidance for practitioners as they implement these new practices.

IDEAs That Work: Improving Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections

For practitioners working with justice-impacted youth with disabilities, the Office of Special Education Programs has created a website 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 assistance and links to effective resources that can help guide practitioners and families. Practices include:

Document Highlighting Rights and Identifying Challenges Faced by Justice-Involved Youth

The Department's Office for Civil Rights compiled a document [PDF, 658KB] 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 from the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection 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. These disparities could play a role in dissuading students from continuing their education after exiting a justice facility. The document also reaffirms the protections youth have under federal civil rights laws, and describes a recent investigation and resolution where OCR vindicated those rights.

Additional Resources

Technical Assistance and Support

Where can I find technical assistance to help schools reduce student entry into the juvenile justice system?

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ), and the technical assistance centers they fund can provide states and school districts with direct, tailored assistance to address exclusionary discipline practices to decrease the likelihood of student contact with the juvenile justice system and generally improve school climate. Some of those resources are listed below.

  • In January 2014, ED and DOJ issued a School Discipline Guidance Package, which included: 1) a Dear Colleague Letter that outlined how public elementary and secondary schools can meet their legal obligations to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin; and 2) a "Guiding Principles" document that describes three key principles and related action steps that can guide efforts to improve school climate and school discipline.
  • ED funds the National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) Disclaimer, which helps schools, districts and states improve conditions for learning "through effective program implementation and school climate measurement" in a variety of settings, so that all students have the opportunity to realize academic success in safe and supportive environments.
  • ED funds the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Disclaimer which provides school districts and states with information, tools and resources for identifying, implementing, adapting and sustaining effective school-wide discipline practices.
  • ED funds 10 regional Equity Assistance Centers that provide direct training and technical assistance in the areas of race, gender and national origin at the request of public school districts and other responsible governmental entities. The centers often develop a memorandum of understanding with the districts they serve and generally provide services from six months to a year or longer, if needed.
  • ED funds the Center for Great Teachers and Leaders Disclaimer to support state efforts to develop effective educators and education leaders. The center provides technical assistance to states on how to incorporate techniques that reinforce positive student behavior and student engagement into professional development, evaluation and other workforce management efforts.
  • DOJ funds a National Resource Center on School Justice Partnerships to provide access to research, training and technical assistance that will assist partners in developing new policies and practice geared towards diverting youth from the juvenile justice system.

Where can I find technical assistance to help improve transition and reentry assistance for justice-impacted youth?

Technical assistance for acting on the Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings [PDF, 1.5MB] is available through the following federally supported technical assistance centers:

  • The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At Risk (NDTAC) Disclaimer serves as a national resource center to provide assistance to States, schools, communities, and parents seeking information on the education of children and youth who are considered neglected, delinquent, or at-risk. The education of youth involved in the juvenile justice system is a primary focus of NDTAC. NDTAC works with State and local administrators of programs operated under Title I, Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as well as service providers, to:
    • Ensure youth who are neglected or delinquent have the opportunity to meet the same challenging state academic standards that all children are expected to meet;
    • Improve educational services for children and youths who are neglected, delinquent or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system;
    • Provide children and youth who are neglected or delinquent with the services needed to make a successful transition from institutions to schools and/or employment;
    • Prevent youth who are at risk of academic failure from dropping out of school; and
    • Provide children and youth who have dropped out of school or who are returning to school after residing in an institution, with a support system to ensure their continued education.
  • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Center for Coordinated Assistance to States (CCAS), formerly known as the State Training & Technical Assistance Center), receives and responds to requests for training and technical assistance from states, territories, tribes and local communities that receive funding from OJJDP, either through the Title II Formula Grants Program or through the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program. CCAS aims to strengthen state, territory, tribal and community capacities and competencies to improve their overall service delivery, enhance their data collection efforts and increase their implementation of evidence-based programs.
  • The DOJ's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) Disclaimer which provides education, training and technical assistance to states, tribes, territories, local governments, service providers, non-profit organizations and corrections institutions working on reentry.

Does ED or DOJ provide financial assistance to improve education transition services in juvenile justice residential facilities?

  • Yes. ED administers the "Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk" under Title I, Part D of the ESEA, which includes a State agency program (Subpart 1) and a local agency program (Subpart 2). Under the Subpart 1 State agency program, ED makes formula grants to State educational agencies (SEAs), which in turn award subgrants to State agencies that operate educational programs for children and youth in institutions and community day programs for neglected or delinquent children and youth and youth in adult correctional institutions. Every SEA has at least one juvenile justice or corrections agency subgrantee, but the funds may not serve all facilities under the agency due to program eligibility requirements and need. Under the Subpart 2 local agency program, with funds generated under Title I, Part A on the basis of the number of children and youth residing in locally operated institutions for delinquent children and youth, SEAs make subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to serve children and youth in locally operated juvenile correctional or neglect facilities, as well as to operate school-based prevention and transition programs. View information for program managers Disclaimer for every SEA.
  • SEAs also can provide funding to their juvenile justice agencies serving eligible youth with disabilities under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For more information about the availability of such funding, please contact your SEA. View a list of special education directors, by state Disclaimer.
  • Public school career and technical education programs are partially federally funded through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act administered by states. These programs are sometimes provided in juvenile justice residential facilities. Read more information about this funding.
  • Most state agencies employ an education director who manages CTE programs and other federal and state education programs, and funding for youths in confinement.
  • OJJDP also administers many grants authorized under both the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and the Second Chance Act. The grants are awarded to state juvenile justice and other public agencies, including school districts and non-profit organizations. Many of the grants provide educationally related support services. View a current list of grants and grantees.

Where can I find data on juvenile justice residential facilities?

  • Annual state performance data for Title I, Part D programs are available in a few different formats. Customized State, regional and national longitudinal reports can be made through ED Data Express.
  • Annual State Performance reports Disclaimer (Title I, Part D is in Part II, Section 2.4).
  • NDTAC provides State Fast Facts pages, along with graphs and charts
  • In addition, the on-line Civil Rights Data Collection has reports on secure care facilities for juveniles
  • ED's Office of Special Education Programs publishes annual data Disclaimer reported by States on the number of youths with disabilities served in correctional facilities by disability category.
  • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention makes census and performance data available at Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement. This site was developed to facilitate independent analysis of national data on the characteristics of youth held in residential placement facilities, including detailed information about the youth's age, sex, race/ethnicity, placement status, length of stay, and most serious offense.
  • OJJDP's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provide the latest answers to the most commonly asked questions about juveniles in corrections. Here you can learn about the number and characteristics of juveniles in residential placement nationwide and in each state. You can also learn about the facilities where these juveniles reside.