Federal Guidance Aims To Improve the Quality of Education in Juvenile Justice Facilities

Posted December 15, 2014
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog federalguidelinestoimproveedinjj 2014

Richard Ross for Juvenile in Justice

A joint pol­i­cy guid­ance pack­age announced by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er and Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Arne Dun­can aims to sub­stan­tial­ly improve the qual­i­ty of edu­ca­tion pro­vid­ed in juve­nile jus­tice facil­i­ties to bet­ter equip youth to return to their com­mu­ni­ties and suc­ceed in life. 

In addi­tion to being removed from their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, youth in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem all too often receive sub-stan­dard edu­ca­tion. In their joint announce­ment, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Hold­er and Sec­re­tary Dun­can say that reduc­ing youth con­tact with the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem is the most cru­cial step to pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive out­comes for youth.” Pro­vid­ing high-qual­i­ty cor­rec­tion­al edu­ca­tion for youth in the sys­tem is one of the most pow­er­ful – and cost-effec­tive – levers we have to ensure that youth are suc­cess­ful once released,” they said. 

The guid­ance pack­age includes a Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples doc­u­ment which high­lights five pil­lars essen­tial for high qual­i­ty schools in secure juve­nile facil­i­ties; three issue-spe­cif­ic Dear Col­league’ let­ters; and fact sheets aimed at help­ing stake­hold­ers make effec­tive use of the mate­ri­als pro­vid­ed. An expert at the Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion­al Excel­lence in Alter­na­tive Set­tings (CEEAS), a Foun­da­tion part­ner, called the new guid­ance the most com­pre­hen­sive and thought­ful ever put out by the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion on cor­rec­tion­al edu­ca­tion for youth and a ter­rif­ic step by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. While incar­cer­a­tion con­tin­ues to be no place for kids, these new pol­i­cy guide­lines send a clear sig­nal: stu­dents held in juve­nile jus­tice facil­i­ties deserve a high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion that will pre­pare them for suc­cess upon release.

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