Nearly 100,000 youth are released from juvenile justice institutions each year. Key to their success is having community agencies and schools ready for them upon their return. Increasingly, funders and policymakers are recognizing the need to connect youth to programs and services that will reinforce their rehabilitation and help them become successful and productive adults.
The best reentry programs begin while a youth is still confined. They require coordination between multiple government agencies and nonprofit providers, not only to develop new services, but to help youth better access existing services. Upon release, teenagers must enroll immediately in school or have a job waiting. Workforce development—helping teens attain job skills and earn money—is often a key motivator for adolescents, increasing their commitment to and enthusiasm for learning. Youth with special needs must have quick access to mental health and substance abuse services. And they must receive strong support from family and other caring adults.
Principles of Reform
- Reduce Institutionalization
- Maximize Youth, Family and Community Participation
- Improve Aftercare and Reentry
- Create Smaller Rehabilitative Institutions
- Recognize and Serve Youth with Specialized Needs
- Create a Range of Community-Based Programs
- Ensure Access to Quality Counsel
- Reduce Racial Disparity
- Keep Youth Out of Adult Prisons
Each National Juvenile Justice Network member embraces the nine principles of reform, and conducts state-based work on at least one principle. These principles and the associated text are from “A Blueprint for Juvenile Justice Reform,” developed by the Youth Transition Funders Group.