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Project JUMP START

Serving communities in Atlanta, Buffalo, Houston and Milwaukee

GOAL: Prepare individuals to enter the workforce and increase their long term labor prospect.

OVERVIEW: Southwest Key Programs is one of four grant recipients of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Education and Training Administration (ETA) funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) selected to serve juvenile offenders in high poverty, high crime communities (HPHC).

As part of this grant, SWK serves as the fiscal and management agent for these funds to contract with nonprofits for the operation of programs in 4 sites: Atlanta, GA, Buffalo, NY, Houston, TX and Milwaukee, WI.

SERVICES: Participants of this project will receive intensive case management services that include assessments of skills, abilities and aptitude, the development of an individualized service plan, goal setting for educational gains, career planning to establish a career pathway for each participant and identification of barriers preventing youth from advancement with supportive services to remove obstacles.

Participants will also receive mentoring support and participate in community service projects that support civic engagement. All participants will be connected to the resources necessary to move them forward towards obtaining an educational credential, developing a work ready skill, or becoming employed.

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: 
o Youth must be between 14-24
o Involved in juvenile justice system within past 12 months
o Live in the HPHC designated community
o Have not been convicted as an adult

COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM: 
o Case Management
o Education & Training
o Workforce Development
o Mentoring
o Restorative Justice
o Community Wide Efforts (reduce crime and violence)

Department of Labor Disclaimer

Background Research

According to the Department of Labor, each year juvenile courts in the United States handle roughly 1.6 million delinquency cases and place an estimated 144,000 youth in juvenile correctional facilities. Youth placed in juvenile correctional facilities face severe educational and labor market barriers. A 2001 report stated that “[a] conservative, preliminary estimate of the prevalence of youth with learning and emotional disabilities in juvenile corrections is 32 percent, which is notably higher than the prevalence of disability among school-age children in the United States, which is about nine percent.” A 1997 report from the National Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice noted that the percentage of youth in juvenile correctional facilities who were identified as being in special education programs before their incarceration is at least three to five times higher than the percentage of the general public school population identified as learning disabled. A study of Philadelphia public schools found that in 2000, only 10 percent of students in a juvenile correctional facility eventually graduated from the Philadelphia School District.

Youth placed in juvenile correctional facilities also face family disruptions, mental health disorders, and substance abuse problems. The 2003 Survey of Youth in Residential Placement indicates that only 19 percent of committed youth lived with two parents when they entered custody, 56 percent lived with only one parent, and 26 percent lived with no parent at all. A 2006 study conducted by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice estimated that 70 percent of youth in juvenile correctional facilities, detention centers, and community-based care have a diagnosable mental health disorder, including 80 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys in these facilities. Twenty-seven percent of youth in these facilities have a mental disorder severe enough to require significant and immediate treatment. Sixty percent of juveniles in residential confinement with a mental health disorder also suffer from co-occurring substance abuse disorders.

Youth in the juvenile justice system have a high probability of returning to crime. As an example, the Commonwealth of Virginia reports that 75 percent of youth released from state correctional facilities and 61 percent of youth placed on probation in the Commonwealth are arrested for a new crime within three years. To help address these problems, DOL awarded these grants to improve the long-term labor market prospects of these youth. These grants will include a combination of workforce development, education and training, case management, mentoring, restorative justice, and community-wide violence reduction components. While the overarching principle that DOL wants all grantees to follow is to provide services that best meet the needs of each individual youth, DOL expects that services for youth ages 17 and under will focus on helping them succeed in high school, internships, and summer jobs, and that services for youth ages 18 and above will focus on helping them receive high school diplomas or GEDs, and enter post-secondary education, apprenticeships, or vocational training that lead to a credential in demand industries within the local economy. These efforts will enhance the long-term employability of participants in unsubsidized employment.