Making the right turn: A guide about youth involved in the juvenile corrections system
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership ( Publisher's URL )
Full Citation
External Link: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership
 Material Information
Title: Making the right turn: A guide about youth involved in the juvenile corrections system
Physical Description: Monograph
Creator: Gagnon, Joseph
Richards, Curtis
Publication Date: 2008
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Joseph Gagnon.
Publication Status: Published
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00000491:00001

Full Text

Long-term success in helping youth involved in the juvenile justice

system, including those with disabilities, prepare for economic

self-sufficiency is possible when strategies are used that address the

developmental needs of these youth: a solid academic foundation,

life skills, and good workplace attitudes and attributes.

disabilities, prepare for economic self-sufficiency is
possible when strategies are used that address the
developmental needs of these youth: a solid
academic foundation, life skills, and good workplace
attitudes and attributes.

Accordingly, the contextual framework for this
Guide is the Guideposts for Success, which details
what research says all youth, including youth with
disabilities, need from a developmental perspective
to successfully transition to adulthood. Within this
Guide, the Guideposts for Success are extended and
focus on their application in the context of meeting
the needs of transition-age youth with and without
disabilities who have been involved or who are at
risk of being involved in the juvenile justice system.
NCWD/Youth and ODEP have engaged in similar
efforts previously with regard to meeting the specific
needs of youth with mental health needs as well as
youth with and without disabilities in the foster care
system (Available at:

The Guidepostsfor Success for Touth Involved in the
Juvenile Corrections System (the Juvenile Justice
Guideposts), included in this Guide, are designed to
encourage collaborative efforts across the nation
between juvenile justice, education, workforce
development, mental health, and other community
institutions, as well as youth and families. Although
research concerning youth at-risk and involved in
the juvenile justice system is limited, the emerging
promising practices identified and recommendations
contained in the guide are derived from the research
available, as well as a review of current Federal law.
Additionally, the report and recommendations were

extensively reviewed by a panel of experts from such
fields as juvenile justice and delinquency prevention,
disability employment, labor, rehabilitative services,
charter schools, education and special education,
law, research and professional development,
vocational and adult education, parent and youth
advocacy, and various foundations.

By addressing the specific developmental needs of
this population, caring adults (e.g., policymakers,
program administrators, judges, court personnel,
secure care staff, corrections professionals, youth
service practitioners, parents, family members) can
substantially increase the likelihood that former
youth offenders, with and without disabilities, will
complete their education, become employed, and
ultimately become productive members of society.

The Guide:

* provides well-researched and documented facts
and statistics about youth involved in the
juvenile corrections system;
* offers evidence-based research about the juvenile
corrections system and the youth involved in it;
* provides a template based upon the Guideposts
for Success to assist states and communities in
the design and implementation of programs to
meet the multiple challenges of this population;
* points out areas requiring further attention on
the part of policymakers and service providers;
* identifies promising practices for practitioners
and policymakers; and,
* identifies resources and tools to assist cross-
system collaborative efforts.

Preface I v

In light of the impact that disability, drug abuse, mental health

needs, and a history of abuse and/or neglect can have on an

individual, it is essential that adults with responsibility for these

youth have the knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as the

professional and political will, to do what is necessary to address

their unique needs.

employment, and integrating into their

To address the significant concerns related to youth
with disabilities at-risk and involved with the juvenile
correctional system, this guide addresses critical
background information concerning youth, the
affects of youth characteristics, recommendations for
policy and practice, and examples of promising
approaches and programs. Specifically, the remainder
of Chapter 1 focuses on youth characteristics that
negatively affect their academic and social success, as
well as their ability to integrate upon release from
juvenile corrections. Chapter 2 reviews the stages of
youth involvement with the juvenile justice system
and highlights important considerations related to
student characteristics at each stage. Chapter 3
describes the Guidepostsfor Success for Transition
Age Touth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System
(Juvenile Justice Guideposts). Chapter 4 delineates
promising approaches to serving youth with
disabilities at-risk and involved in the juvenile justice
system. Chapter 5 includes a discussion on key
policy considerations. Additionally, the Appendix
includes specific promising programs that provide
important support to youth.

Characteristics of Youth with Disabilities

An understanding of the unique characteristics of
youth involved in the juvenile justice system is
critical to serving these students. It is also important

to developing more effective policies, programs, and
service systems.' Issues that may affect youth include
classification as requiring special education, having
mental health needs, and experiencing abuse, and

Having a classification such as ED or LD can have
significant implications for youth in juvenile
corrections. Students with disabilities typically have
great difficulty at each stage of involvement with the
juvenile justice system. For example, youth with
disabilities might confess quickly and have
difficulties communicating with their lawyers.8 These
youth are also more likely to plead guilty and be
committed. Moreover, they are less likely to have
their sentences appealed, to be placed on probation,
or to be placed in diversionary programs. In
addition, they frequently serve longer sentences than
youth without disabilities convicted of the same

In light of the impact that disability, drug abuse,
mental health needs, and a history of abuse and/or
neglect can have on an individual, it is essential that
adults with responsibility for these youth (e.g.,
families, police, judges, attorneys, secure care
professionals, educators and administrators, social
service professionals, and other advocates) have the
knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as the
professional and political will, to do what is
necessary to address their unique needs. Balanced
consideration of community protection, offender

2 | CHAPTER 1 - Introduction

Youth with disabilities, such as ED, have increased problems

with drug abuse, lack of social skills, mental disorders, and

abuse and neglect.

extensively studied. This may be, in part, due to the
differing definitions of emotional disturbance
between the fields of psychiatry and education. For
example, while the IDEA definition of ED excludes
youth with social maladjustment, social
maladjustment is commonly equated with
oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder
in the psychiatry field. In juvenile corrections, over
half of youth have oppositional defiant disorder or
conduct disorder.48

One condition, prevalent in juvenile corrections,
which is recognized in both special education and
psychiatry, is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD). Due to inadequate child-find procedures
and depending on the characteristics of the study
sample, the percentage of youth with ADHD in
juvenile corrections ranges from 2.9 percent to 16
percent, while 7.5 percent in regular schools are
classified under Other Health Impairments (in
which ADHD is included).49 Despite the wide
range, it is commonly held that there is a serious
under-identification of youth with disabilities in
juvenile corrections due to inadequate child-find
procedures and it could be asserted that the higher
percentage more closely represents the current
situation. Having ADHD, being male, and being
rejected by one's peers are typical characteristics of
persistently aggressive offenders.50

Overrepresentation Theories

There are several theories that attempt to explain
why youth with disabilities are overrepresented in
the juvenile justice system. Although a complete
description is beyond the scope of this Guide and
additional research is necessary, there are three
theories to consider that may inform approaches to
prevention and treatment of youth.51

First, the susceptibility theory holds that student
characteristics (e.g., disability, poor self-esteem,
desire for immediate gratification) lead to juvenile
delinquency. Next, the school failure model is based
on the concept that school failure results in student
detachment from school and subsequent
delinquency. Third, in the differential treatment
model, it is maintained that youth with disabilities
are dealt with in a more punitive manner within
schools, juvenile justice, and corrections.

Certainly, each model explains some of the
difficulties experienced by youth with disabilities.
Regardless of the theoretical orientation, it is clear
that youth with disabilities experience ongoing
difficulties throughout the juvenile justice process.
These difficulties, if not adequately recognized and
addressed, will likely inhibit youth engagement in
school, the community, and workforce.

CHAPTER 1 - Introduction I 5

mental illness from becoming involved with law

Unfortunately, however, student mental health
supports in schools are commonly inadequate and
tend to be ad hoc and fragmented.54 The Center for
Mental Health in Schools has identified system
changes needed to improve mental health services in
public schools. First, support must exist for the
development of prototypes for effectively addressing
the mental health needs of youth in schools. Second,
schools should strategically plan how the changes
will be accomplished and validated. Regardless of
the setting, it is clear that, "much greater attention
should be given to ensuring that significant
resources are used to systematically monitor
implementation and delivery of treatment."55

Initial Problem Behavior: Law Enforcement
or Non-Law Enforcement Involvement

From the onset of involvement with law
enforcement, students with disabilities are often at a
significant disadvantage. For example, youth
involved in the juvenile justice system score
significantly below non-delinquents on measures of
language skills.56 In addition, a high percentage of
youth with ED have language disorders.5 In fact,
approximately one-third of adolescents with ED
have difficulty understanding what others say to
them.58 Because youth with disabilities and,
specifically, youth with ED are overrepresented in
the juvenile justice system, the impact of potential
language deficits should be considered at each stage
of the juvenile justice process. These deficits can
have a significant impact on the youths'

What are the stages of delinquency case processing in the juvenile justice system?

Cinia lu ic s i


to J ui' rmumI *"IWcarts
.tluIa f Isols vsIs.


Note: This chart gives a simplified view of caseflow through the juvenile justice system. Procedures vary by jurisdiction.

Note: From H. N. Snyder and M. Sickmund, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report (p. 105). Copyright
by U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
Pittsburgh, PA. Used with permission.

8 I CHAPTER 2 - Stages of Youth Involvement

I . - I



From the onset of involvement with law enforcement,

students with disabilities are often at a significant


Alternatives to out-of-home placement (e.g., secure
care facilities) are important to consider for
nonviolent youthful offenders, those with a small
likelihood of reoffending, and those likely to attend
mandatory meetings. It is particularly critical to
pursue such alternatives for youth classified as special
education and those with identified mental health
needs. Cost studies indicate that there is
considerable savings when youth are served in the
community versus when they are confined." For
youth with ED and/or other mental health needs in
particular, "incarceration presents potential risks
including victimization, self-injury, and suicide.""

Providing appropriate diversion requires an
understanding of youth characteristics, as well as
collaboration between police, intake officers,
attorneys, judges, parents, child welfare, mental
health, youth development, and social service
agencies." Maintaining youth in the community
with appropriate supports (e.g., family and
individual counseling, school-based interventions,
behavioral and social skills interventions) will allow
the youth to continue to work toward post-school
self-sufficiency. In addition, a 2000 review of
research concerning the characteristics of effective
treatments for youth in the juvenile justice system
revealed that community-based treatment and
programs are generally more effective than
incarceration or residential placement in reducing
recidivism, even for serious and violent juvenile

Unfortunately, however, youth may be incarcerated
simply because of a lack of available community-
based and mental health services." Accordingly, it is
imperative that practitioners and community
members voice their needs and collaborate with

policymakers to ensure that adequate community-
based programs are available that can provide
appropriate sanctions for youth, while avoiding the
negative outcomes associated with imprisonment.


At the prosecution stage, the decision can be made
to divert the youth from the juvenile justice system
or continue to juvenile court intake. Additionally,
youth may be waived to the criminal justice system
via statutory discretion or prosecutorial discretion."

Between 1992 and 1997, laws were passed in 45
states that made it easier to transfer juvenile cases to
criminal court.7" The National Council of Juvenile
and Family Court Judges, however, has taken the
position that a judge should make decisions
regarding juvenile waiver to the criminal justice
system and that "prosecutorial waivers, mandatory
transfers, and automatic exclusions are not

Intake and Detention

Sickmund summarizes the process of intake and
detention.81 Court intake is typically done by an
intake officer and is designed to decide, "to dismiss
the case, to handle the matter informally, or to
request formal intervention by the juvenile court."
In cases to be handled by the juvenile court, a
delinquency petition may be filed to adjudicate or
judge the youth delinquent. At this stage, the intake
personnel may also file, "a waiver hearing to transfer
the case to criminal court."

Youth with disabilities may have difficulties
understanding questions at intake and inadvertently

10 I CHAPTER 2 - Stages of Youth Involvement

The Guidepost is a framework to assist the multiple organizations

that need to be involved to meet the needs and improve the

transition outcomes of youth involved with the juvenile corrections

system and to create the necessary community webs of support.

* youth development and leadership
* connecting activities (support and community
* family involvement and supports.

This Guide focuses on application of the Guideposts
for Success in the context of meeting the needs of
transition-aged youth with and without disabilities
who have been involved in the juvenile justice
system. Regardless of the presence of a disability,
these youth face many difficulties inherent in
involvement in the juvenile justice system. For
example, their ability to transition successfully may
be hampered by (a) having been separated from
their family while in a secure care facility, (b) stigma
associated with having been detained when they re-
enter their community, and (c) a lack of appropriate
supports prior to, during, and after they are released.

There is widespread support for the idea that
effective reintegration of youth from juvenile
corrections to the community, school, and/or
workforce requires highly individualized education,
treatment, and transition planning from the moment
the youth is committed, as well as regular committee
review of these plans.108 Key preparations are needed
for a successful transition from juvenile corrections
to the community, school, and workforce, including:

* providing rigorous standards-based instruction
to support youth obtaining a high school
diploma, vocational certificate, or GED;

* providing the information necessary to prepare
youth for a career and to participate in
supervised work experience;

* preparing the young person to meet upcoming
challenges via activities and experiences which
help them gain personal development skills and
* connecting the young person to programs,
services, activities, and supports that will
eventually help them gain access to chosen post-
release and post-school options; and,
* maintaining parental and/or caretaker involve-
ment in the youth's life, education, and training.

The Juvenile Justice Guideposts provides a roadmap
for guiding this effort. By utilizing a strength-based
approach to address the specific developmental needs
of this population, caring adults (e.g., policymakers,
program administrators, judges, court personnel,
secure care staff, corrections professionals, youth
service practitioners, parents, family members) can
substantially increase the likelihood that former
youth offenders will ultimately become productive
contributing members of society. Although this
framework for success has not yet been implemented
in any known community in its entirety, key
components are emerging in an array of communities
around the country.

Guidepost 1 - School-Based Preparatory

At every stage in the juvenile justice process, youth
need to participate in educational programs
grounded in content standards, with clear
performance expectations and graduation options
based upon meaningful, accurate, and relevant
indicators of student learning and skills. To achieve
this, secure care facilities must have a sufficient

14 | CHAPTER 3- Meeting the Needs of Youth

"...positive approaches that emphasize opportunities for healthy social,

physical, and mental development have a much greater likelihood of

success. Successful delinquency prevention strategies must, therefore,

be positive in orientation and comprehensive in their scope."

(Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2000, p. 7)

Finally, a distinction is necessary between discussion
of empirically validated interventions, and mention
of interventions within the context of specific
facilities. The difficulty lies in the sustainability and
fidelity of interventions within certain facilities. The
unfortunate fact is that, particularly in juvenile
correctional facilities, programs and interventions
often rely on the tireless work of a few individuals. It
is not uncommon for exceptional programs to be
unrecognizable after the departure of a dynamic
administrator and the subsequent lack of fidelity to
continue program or intervention implementation.
While a few programs are noted below, perhaps it
may be more prudent to focus on the key
characteristics of a program or intervention, rather
than the specific facility at which a program or
intervention is implemented.

Promising Practices for Employment and
Training for Court Involved Youth

The sections below provide specific promising
practices at each stage of youth involvement within
the juvenile justice system. The practices emphasize
preparation for employment and job training (e.g.,
Jobs for America's Graduates, Job Corps, career-
technical education program in North Carolina,
Project SUPPORT) through collaborative linkages
between the juvenile justice and workforce
development systems and programs. Despite the
promise of juvenile justice and workforce
development system collaboration, the common
disconnect between these systems results in varied
levels of quality both within and across states.'32
Several issues must be overcome for the systems to

effectively collaborate including: (a) lack of sharing
information concerning program availability; (b)
competition for resources; (c) exclusion of youth
involved in the juvenile justice system due to
performance requirements; (d) lack of programs
specifically designed for court involved youth; and,
(e) insufficient understanding of the unique needs of
court involved youth.133

Despite these roadblocks, collaborative programs do
exist that effectively connect court-involved youth to
community-based resources that emphasize
employment and the skills needed to find and keep a
job, and promote success in the workplace.'34 For
example, organizations may solicit funding via joint
submission to Federal government requests for
proposals (RFPs). To successfully collaborate,
programs must develop a common understanding of
youth characteristics and needs, a shared language,
and a commitment to rise above common territorial
conflicts. 3 Additionally, successful programs target
their job training efforts to local labor market needs,
collaborate to hold youth accountable via
monitoring and counseling, and involve employers
in a meaningful way in program design and
implementation of work experience programs.'36

One example of a collaborative effort is The Court
Employment Project, a community-based project for
juvenile felony offenders. The program includes,
"case management, educational instruction and
GED preparation classes, social work, art therapy,
activities and field trips as well as employment
services.""' Student progress is regularly reported to
the judge. Youth also have the option to participate

S26 I CHAPTER 4 - Promising Practices for Practitioners

"Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a treatment forjuvenile offenders that

uses a combination of empirically-based treatments (e.g. cognitive

behavior therapy, behavioral parent training, functional family therapy)

to address multiple variables (i.e. family, school, peer groups) that have

been shown to be factors in juvenile behavior"

Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, 2006, p. 1).

Rehabilitative Models
Some states are developing a more rehabilitative
than confinement model for youthful offenders. For
example, the state of Missouri has made a
commitment to treatment of youth in small
(typically 33 or fewer beds) facilities.'55 In addition
to maintaining youth in smaller facilities, three-
fourths of non-residential community programs,
group homes, and facilities have a minimum of
security. The approach, now adapted by California
Youth Authority, has six key characteristics:

* "small-scale residential facilities (rather than
training schools);
* extensive 24-hour therapy;
* quality education programs;
* heavy family outreach/counseling;
* well-qualified, highly trained staff; and,
* extensive non-residential programming and
aftercare support."'56

Between 2001 and 2005, recidivism ranged from
between six and nine percent and was 7.1 percent in
2005.157 Across states, recidivism is often defined
differently and rates may include youth transferred
to the criminal justice system. However, the 7.1
percent rate is less than the combined average 12%
of juvenile recidivism in Missouri, Arkansas, and
Montana (a group of states with low recidivism

For non-institutionalized serious juvenile offenders,
certain variables, such as an increased length of
treatment, have a significant positive effect on
recidivism.'59 Additionally, three approaches to
treatment are effective in reducing recidivism:

* interpersonal skills training;
* individual counseling; and,

* behavioral programs.

Family-focused Treatment
Family-focused treatment is also an effective
approach to assisting non-confined youth.160 Family-
focused treatment often includes a cognitive-
behavioral approach, as well as individual therapy,
and medication management."' Family-focused
treatment may also include brief strategic family
therapy, which "provides families with the tools to
overcome individual and family risk factors through
focused interventions to improve maladaptive
patterns of family interaction and skill-building
strategies to strengthen families."'62

Teen Courts
Another approach that is gaining popularity and
research validation is the use of teen courts. There
are approximately 1,109 teen courts in the U.S.'63
Typically, teen courts are options for youth who are
under the age of 16, have no prior arrest record, and
have been charged with a less serious crime such as
shoplifting, vandalism, or disorderly conduct.'64
Youth may be diverted to teen court at several
points in the juvenile justice process including via

CHAPTER 4 - Promising Practices for Practitioners I 29

To appropriately address the academic needs of incarcerated

youth, both detention and commitment juvenile correctional

facilities must provide access to a "free, appropriate public

education" to all students and ensure that they continue to make

progress toward a high school diploma.

law enforcement referral, non-law enforcement
referral, intake, via the prosecutor, or as an informal
disposition from the court.'65

In teen court, youth admit their guilt and are
provided consequences from a system of graduated
sanctions.66 A peer jury gives sanctions to the
offender that typically goes beyond punishments and
includes community service, apology letters, drug
and alcohol classes, restitution, and service as a juror
in future teen court cases.'67

Research on teen courts shows promise for
decreasing youth recidivism and providing additional
benefits. However, there are difficulties with much
of the research on teen courts.'68 First, the
evaluation procedures are typically so different that
it makes comparisons among studies difficult.
Additionally, many studies did not provide a non-
treatment comparison group, which limits
conclusions. Another issue is the need for
procedures if a youth does not follow through with
teen court requirements. In at least one study, there
was essentially nothing done with youth who were
referred back to juvenile parole and probation from
teen court.'69 Also, there is a need to control for the
types of students referred to the program when
making comparison of teen court recidivism rates
versus other diversion programs. While some
research shows a difference in recidivism, these issues
necessitate caution when interpreting results.17

There are some studies of teen courts that were
more rigorous and used a control group. For
example, in two studies researchers noted a positive

affect on recidivism for youth participating in teen
court."' However, not all programs had statistically
significantly lower recidivism than the control
group. Other more rigorous studies included a
control group and identified low rates of recidivism
for teen courts, but showed no significant difference
between teen court and the group that did not
receive treatment.172 In a more recent study, there
were reports of significant differences in recidivism
between teen court participants and a control
group.'7 The unique aspect of this study is that
youth were repeat offenders, a group that is typically
not provided the teen court option. In addition to
some promising effects on recidivism, benefits of
teen court may include youth satisfaction toward the
program, more positive attitudes concerning
procedural justice and toward authority, and a
greater knowledge of the legal system.'74

Teen courts hold great promise, but additional high-
quality research is needed to identify:

* critical features of effective programs;
* factors that contribute to and are barriers to
program success;
* the types of sanctions that are most effective and
for whom they are effective; and,
* effective strategies for youth who do not comply
with sanctions.

Moreover, for teen courts to be a viable and
sustainable option, problems with inadequate
funding, personnel, and referrals must be addressed.17

30 | CHAPTER 4 - Promising Practices for Practitioners

The PBIS approach provides a convincing alternative to the

argument for a solely punitive behavioral approach (Nelson et

al. 2005).

effectively. UKCRL reported, instructionalnl
programs that are well coordinated across teachers
with regard to what is taught and how instruction is
provided have resulted in the greatest student
achievement gains."192

Career and Technical Education
for Youth in Corrections

Career training and technical education while youth
with and without disabilities are in public school and
when involved with juvenile corrections are critical
for preparing youth to successfully enter the
workforce. Within public school, generic and
occupationally-specific career and technical
education as well as on-the-job-training strongly
related to lower drop-out rates for youth with ED.'93
Generic career and technical education and on-the-
job-training were also associated with higher
postschool earnings.94 Furthermore, youth who
completed either vocational training or a GED
program while confined were twice as likely to be
employed six months after their release."1

One example of a well-planned career/technical
education program was developed in North
Carolina. The State's Department of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention implements the system,
including the accountability component, in a
manner identical to the public schools of North
Carolina. The use of this system enhances students'
ability to transfer credits to local public schools and
provides structure and accountability within the
State's juvenile justice school system. Although a
complete description of the North Carolina system
is beyond the scope of this Guide, there are a few
characteristics of this system that are particularly

North Carolina has developed the Vocational
Competency Tracking System (VoCATS). The
purpose of VoCATS is to plan instruction, assess
students, evaluate student mastery, document
student achievement, and provide accountability
data. The VoCATS is a competency-based,
computer-supported system encompassing course
and lesson planning, assessment items, as well as
aggregated and disaggregated reports of students,
classes, teachers, schools, and LEAs. The Rand
Corporation and U.S. Department of Education
have recognized VoCATS as an exemplary statewide
system and national instructional model in
workforce development education.

Currently, the North Carolina workforce
development staff provide: "(a) 129 course
blueprints validated by business/industry (course
blueprints include competencies and objectives.); (b)
116 banks of assessment items distributed
electronically; (c) 100 curriculum guides developed
or adopted for use in North Carolina; (d) generation
of secured End-of-Course tests or post-assessments
for courses supported in the Programs of Study; (e)
staff development; and, (f) a help desk to assist LEAs
with implementation of VoCATS and use of related

In North Carolina schools, youth are provided a
choice of ten career pathways:

* agricultural and natural resources technologies;

* biological and chemical technologies;

* business technologies;

* commercial and artistic production technologies;

* construction technologies;

CHAPTER 4 - Promising Practices for Practitioners I 33

The existence of long-term, untreated mental health issues has serious

implications for the reintegration of youth into school, the community,

and workforce.

meeting school expectations. Administrators at the
facility highlighted the importance of using a
positive behavioral system to promote and teach
appropriate behaviors, as well as the necessity for
negative consequences for significant infractions.208
Implementation of the PBIS approach has led to a
reduction in restraint and seclusion by 73 percent
and the average rate of disciplinary removals was
reduced by 50 percent.209

These examples do not highlight the myriad of
components associated with implementation of
PBIS. However, they are noted to illustrate the
effective application of the PBIS model to alternative
and secure care settings. Also noteworthy is the
mention from both facilities that the focus on
collecting and analyzing data within the PBIS model
allowed the facilities to make effective programmatic
adaptations.210 Continual data-based modifications
and improvements are an important component of
effective behavioral interventions.

Mental Health Interventions

There are serious concerns that youth with and
without disabilities in juvenile corrections are not
receiving necessary mental health screening and
services.211 The National Mental Health Association
reported that:

* there is commonly inadequate mental health
screening for youth entering juvenile
correctional facilities;
* facilities typically are not prepared to recognize
or deal with youth at-risk for suicide; and,

* facilities typically employ staff with little training
in mental health and in many facilities there is
virtually an absence of mental health services.212

The existence of long-term, untreated mental health
issues has serious implications for the reintegration
of youth into school, the community, and
workforce. If left untreated, mental health issues
might become chronic and have enormous personal
and societal costs.213 Conversely, there is some
evidence that counseling, which includes
components such as anger management, social skills
training, and career training, reduces recidivism.214

Substance abuse is a major mental health concern
for youth with and without disabilities in juvenile
corrections. Research indicates that effective
interventions should address multiple areas that
youth need including problems with school, peers,
and family, as well as elements of relapse
prevention.21 Behavioral and cognitive/behavioral
approaches are also recommended and should be
implemented in a community setting whenever
possible.216 Also, several key variables are important
for effective substance abuse programs for youth:

* time spent in treatment is an important
predictor of recovery and treatment should be at
least one year in length;
* family involvement increases the likelihood of
* training in life skills and abstinence are effective;
* aftercare that includes self-help and support
groups positively affects recovery.21

Transition and After Care

For youth involved in the juvenile corrections
system to successfully move into the workforce and
toward self-sufficiency, several preparatory activities
need to occur before the youth is released into the

CHAPTER 4 - Promising Practices for Practitioners I 35

No Child Left Behind requires states to evaluate the

performance of all students in all public schools in order to

determine whether schools, school districts, and the state have

made adequate yearly progress (AYP).

Programs), state, and local jurisdictions must
provide oversight to ensure that juvenile correctional
facilities are in compliance with Federal and state
education requirements and support service are
provided, as appropriate.

Primary responsibility to oversee the provision of
appropriate special education services in juvenile
corrections falls initially on the state education
agency.224 The need for state-level oversight is
particularly relevant given that, in a national study225
approximately 80 percent of juvenile correctional
facilities reported being accredited by state
departments of education. Such accreditation
requires a comprehensive plan and implementation
of said plan to ensure facility compliance with IDEA
and NCLB. State education agencies must also be
regularly and comprehensively monitored by the
U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special
Education Programs and held accountable for
juvenile correctional facility school adherence to
Federal requirements.

There is a need for development and
implementation of a comprehensive plan for local,
state, and Federal collaboration between
education/special education and comparable levels
of the juvenile justice system. The collaboration
across systems and at varied levels is particularly
critical in light of the varied approaches, throughout
the nation, to oversight of education within juvenile
correctional facility schools (i.e., juvenile
correctional schools may be supervised by juvenile
corrections and not the local education agency).

No Child Left Behind
There are several key policy issues regarding No
Child Left Behind and youth with disabilities in
juvenile corrections.226 No Child Left Behind
requires states to evaluate the performance of all
students in all public schools in order to determine
whether schools, school districts, and the state have
made adequate yearly progress (AYP). Each state
must utilize a set of high-quality, yearly student
academic assessments that include, at a minimum,
assessments in mathematics, reading or language
arts, and science that will be used as the primary
means of determining the yearly performance. There
is a clear expectation that juvenile justice education
programs are to be included in this evaluation.22

A number of impediments exit to meeting the
requirements of No Child Left Behind in juvenile
justice education programs. First, youth within
juvenile justice education programs are highly
mobile. Given the relatively short length of stay in
juvenile correctional facilities, many facility schools
may not be required to report state assessment
scores. To address this issue, Federal and state
guidelines should be developed to assess and report
student progress in intervals that coincide with the
common six-month stay and include other indicators
of student progress.228

Second, problems exist concerning AYP. It is
important that juvenile correctional schools are
held accountable. However, many more
students in juvenile corrections have significant
learning and behavior issues than in public
schools and rarely are the same students in the
facility from one year to the next.229 As such, an

38 | CHAPTER 5 - Enhancing Policy and Practice

For the interventions discussed in this Guide to be effective, there

must be comprehensive and ongoing professional development on

research-based approaches that support youth academically,

behaviorally, emotionally, and in work-related skills.

behaviorally, emotionally, and in work-related skills.
There is a need for training across systems that
include professionals from each organization focused
on troubled youth.

Substantial challenges exist within each of the
systems referenced in this Guide to find and
maintain well-trained quality staff, particularly front-
line youth service professionals. The multi-system
approach needed to support the transition of youth
involved with the juvenile corrections system further
amplifies this problem. Front-line youth service
professionals are expected to support youth who
possess a complex array of educational and mental
health challenges, as well as significant deficits in job
related skills. As such, youth service professionals in
the workforce development and juvenile corrections
systems arena must possess a broad range of
knowledge, skills, and abilities to serve youth

The NCWD/Youth, in collaboration with the
National Youth Employment Coalition and the
support of the ODEP, has identified 10 core
competencies of effective youth service professionals
as the centerpiece of an effective workforce
development system. These core competencies are:

* knowledge of the field;
* communication with youth;

* assessment and individualized planning;
* relationship to family and community;
* workforce preparation;

* career exploration;

* relationship with employers and between
employers and employees;
* connections to resources;

* program design and delivery; and,
* administrative skills.

These core youth service professional competencies
have been further refined using the Guideposts for
Success as an organizing framework. The
competencies have also served as the basis for
training curricula for youth service professionals and
regional and national training for juvenile
correctional professionals.

Comprehensive professional development is also
critical for other professionals who are involved with
these youth. For example, in order to make
appropriate decisions to use and implement
interventions for non-institutionalized youth,
judges, youth advocates, attorneys, probation
professionals, and direct service providers must have
a common understanding of when and how to use a
specific program and the interventions associated
with the program. Similarly, within juvenile
corrections, educators, administrators, secure care
staff, and mental health professionals must all have
knowledge of effective practices and how to
implement such practices. Oversight is also necessary
to hold professionals accountable for proper
implementation of interventions. This fidelity of
treatment is a fundamental component that is often

CHAPTER 5 - Enhancing Policy and Practice I 41


Shipping Address
State Zip
Daytime Phone

Price per copy 1-10 11-50 51 & over
Making the Right Turn $20 $15 $5

Number of copies At cost per copy (from above) Total Cost

Circle type of card: (VISA) (MASTERCARD)

Name on card
Mailing Address for Credit Card
City State Zip
Expiration Date
Credit Card Number
By completing this portion of the form I am authorizing NCWD to charge the total amount due.

NCWD/Youth, c/o IEL
4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008

Or fax form to (202) 872-4050

Or e-mail: publications(d)
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth
c/o IEL, 4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
1-877-871-0744 (toll free)
Fax: 202-872-4050

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated May 24, 2011 - Version 3.0.0 - mvs