States Miss Chances to Help Youth in Justice System Find Work

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Photo by Juvenile Office of Public Affairs, US Marshalls Service via Flickr

State juvenile correctional agencies do a poor job of preparing youth in the juvenile justice system for employment, the Council of State Governments Justice Center says in a new report.

States miss opportunities to help youth get critical career skills to overcome hurdles they face seeking jobs, the center says.

Based on a survey of all states, the report says that 42 do not offer the full array of available services.

Only 11 states use federal funds available for this purpose under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The survey also found that young girls often have less access to services than boys because they are incarcerated in smaller facilities.

More than 30,000 youth are incarcerated in the U.S. annually, and 325,000 are placed on some form of probation. The justice center says that increasingly, these youth are older and seeking to enter the workforce. In 2015, about 75 percent of incarcerated youth and half of all youth assigned to any level of supervision were 16 or older.

The survey found that most states lack staff dedicated to overseeing the provision of workforce development services for incarcerated youth, particularly after youth return to the community.

Only 21 states have a single agency collecting workforce development data for
youth in the community, the center found.

It said that juvenile justice agencies rarely have a cohesive data system for
information on the provision of workforce development services and employment outcomes for youth in the community.

In addition, most states do not track key employment outcomes for incarcerated youth while they are in facilities and after their release. Most states do not track basic workforce development outcomes for incarcerated youth when they return to
the community, and only five states collect data on these outcomes after youth are no longer under system supervision.

The report includes a “best practice checklist” for states to use in improving services to youth in the justice system who are seeking jobs.


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