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Promising Resources, Policies, and Practices

Goal 1: Youth Voice

Goal 8: Post-Secondary Access

FosterEd – California, National Center for Youth Law

FosterEd, an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law, has been working to close the achievement gap for students in foster care since 2005. It has project sites in Arizona, California, Indiana, and New Mexico. Independent evaluations of FosterEd’s work in Arizona and California indicate that FosterEd has helped students in foster care reach educational goals, such as improved attendance and higher grade point averages. In 2014, FosterEd began expanding the initiative to also serve youth in the juvenile justice system.

Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Unit

The Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Unit is a partnership between San Francisco Juvenile Probation, the Public Defender, the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, and the Superior Court of California. The program aims to improve the outcomes for youth returning from long-term commitment. The JCRU is a fully staffed probation unit that works with a dedicated reentry court and attorneys to develop and oversee intensive re-entry plans for youth returning home.

Securing credit transfers for course work in juvenile detention and ensuring readmission

Under legislation passed in 2014, California public school districts are required to accept credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by students while attending a juvenile court school. All coursework completed by the student while at the juvenile court school shall be transferred by means of the standard state transcript. Students who complete the graduation requirements of their home school district while in a juvenile court school shall be awarded a diploma from the school they attended prior to detention.

Youth Treatment & Education Center Leadership Program: Peer and Adult Support Builds Leadership

Most participants in the Leadership Program are first-generation college-going youth, many of whom are also the first in their extended families to complete high school. The YTEC  Leadership Program provides participants with “the ongoing adult and peer support needed to counter negative social and environmental conditions. At the same time, it supports them in their pursuit of higher education, work, skills and experience. Furthermore, the program develops initiative, critical thinking and social consciousness through activism and service.

Youth Treatment & Education Center Bridge Program

The Bridge Program is a scholarship program for students who complete high school while receiving YTEC services or who participate in the YTEC Leadership Fellows Program (below) and who continue on to post-secondary education.  YTEC explains that “[t]hese students are encouraged to stay in school and are tracked by YTEC staff to support their ongoing success. Scholarships are supported by the College Access Foundation of San Francisco and YTEC fundraising events.”

Underground Scholars Initiative

At UC Berkeley, the Underground Scholars Initiative was founded in 2013 when two students realized that they both had been incarcerated in their past. They decided to create a support system and a safe space for other students (both current and potential) who share their background. In addition to helping formerly incarcerated students transition into the university culture, they also work on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline by uniting academia with the lived experiences of the group.

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice Local Education Agency

The DJJ operates its own LEA recognized by the California Education Authority, and maintains three accredited high schools. Youth attend classes to work toward their high school diploma or GED. They also offer (apparently limited) post-secondary course work and CTE classes. Because the DJJ is a recognized LEA, each school it operates must publish a School Accountability Report Card detailing the educational services provided and outcomes.

Barriers to Achievement and Higher Education for Youth in California Juvenile Court Schools, Youth Law Center

This report from the Youth Law Center discusses California’s failure to provide incarcerated youth with adequate educational services and suggests that the state needs to do more to ensure that students have access to educational guidance, quality academics, transition services, and educational supports. The report provides educational statistics for California youth involved in the juvenile justice system, as well as statistics relating to the operation of schools within juvenile justice facilities.

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