The Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice (WA-PCJJ) supports reform efforts that increase a youth’s chance of successful reentry and transition to their local communities and has selected reentry and transitional support for youth as one of the top juvenile justice priority areas for the state in the 2012 three-year Juvenile Justice Plan.
The Partnership Council has selected two programs to receive Federal Title II funding to address youth reentry/aftercare: Northwest Educational Service District 189 in Anacortes, $99,927, and Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver, $100,000.
The ESD 189 project will work with youth incarcerated at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. A transition/reentry coach will work with these youth in three important areas: family engagement, development of strength-based reentry plans and providing linkages to existing resources.
ESD 112’s Education Advocate Program will work with youth reentering the community from confinement in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. This research-based model, developed by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, provides comprehensive case management services to increase the success of youth in reentry to school, family and community. Education Advocates help youth develop individualized Student Success Plans, link them to school and community resources, and monitor and support achievement of their goals.
Youth who are sentenced to local detention or state juvenile rehabilitation facilities often face challenges as they transition back to the community from secure care. The longer youth spend in confinement the more difficult reentry can be without proper preparation, transitional planning and the necessary services and resources. Reentry challenges include reintegration back to a home environment, a school setting, and in many cases – depending on the youth’s age, employment. Also, older youth often struggle to locate and secure appropriate housing. For all youth, having a criminal history (especially a felony criminal history) creates unforeseen needs for services and unintended consequences to successful reentry.
Confined youth may return to communities that have high crime rates and poverty, unstable households and family relationships, and unemployment. Juvenile offenders – in general – are more likely to struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues. Reentry and aftercare programs attempt to transition and reintegrate formerly incarcerated juveniles back into society, and are essential to help youth transition back into their local communities, and to reduce recidivism rates.