Right Turn 2013

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Program Design

Overview

The Right Turn Career-Focused Transition initiative (Right Turn) is funded by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (Grant: PE-244410-13-60-A-11) and led by the Institute for Educational Leadership's Center for Workforce Development (IEL/CWD).

Right Turn will adapt the Guideposts for Success for Transition Age Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System (JJ Guideposts), the three career development phases gleaned from the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) demonstration project, and lessons learned from the existing Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) for court-involved youth to provide individualized education, training, and workforce development opportunities to juvenile ex-offenders who are returning to and currently residing in high-poverty, high-crime communities. IEL/CWD will work with five local sub-grantees to implement the Right Turn in at least two states. This initiative will serve 1000 youth: at least 250 in confinement, 650 residing in or recently returned to the local community, and up to 100 in-school but at-risk of offending.

Workforce Development

Right Turn will engage youth in workforce development through a 3-phase career development process: 1) Self-Exploration, 2) Career Exploration, and 3) Career Planning and Management.

In the Self-Exploration phase, youth identify their personal strengths, skills, values, and interests using validated career assessments. In the Career Exploration phase, youth learn about specific careers and career pathways through various small group activities, including employer guest speakers, informational interviews, workplace visits, and job shadowing. Career exploration includes learning about various high-growth career clusters and pathways using local and state labor market information. Career Planning and Management activities include training in soft skills; obtaining hands-on work experience through summer jobs, internships, employment, or restorative justice-focused service work; setting and achieving education and training goals that align with personal career goals, including obtaining a high school diploma or GED, earning industry-recognized occupational credentials, and pursuing postsecondary credentials; and receiving ongoing support from staff and adult mentors, including job coaching, academic assistance, and supportive services. Youth in detention will be engaged in the Self-Exploration and Career Exploration phases within the facility starting 60-90 days prior to their scheduled release and advance to Career Planning & Management upon re-entry. Youth residing in the community upon enrollment will participate in all phases in the community.

Each sub-grantee will provide workforce development services to approximately 100 youth each year—25 in facilities, up to 10 in-school at-risk youth and the remaining youth residing in the community—for a total of 200 youth by the end of the grant period. Youth will be enrolled on a rolling basis and the duration of services will vary based on each youth's individualized plan. Some youth may move quickly into unsubsidized employment, occupational training, or postsecondary education, while other youth may need more time to explore careers, develop soft skills, and obtain subsidized work experience before they are ready for placement.

IEL/CWD believes that youth, especially youth offenders and youth with disabilities, cannot be served effectively with a one-size-fits-all approach, because each youth's strengths, interests, and needs are distinct. To ensure all services are individually tailored to youth's age, stage, and interests, sub-grantees will work with youth to create Individualized Career Development Plans (ICDPs). ICDPs are developed using a youth-driven process to improve buy-in and follow-through. The ICDP is based on several research-based tools, including the Individualized Mentoring Plan used by the IEL/CWD-led RAMP, and NCWD/Youth's research on ILPs. Youth, staff, and mentors will use the ICDP to develop tangible plans to achieve entry-level access to career pathways of interest, including secondary and postsecondary education, career exposure, work experiences, and skills attainment. The ICDP will be a living document that guides each youth's progress in all areas of the initiative. Sub-grantees will identify case managers with workforce development experience and a manager of workforce development.

To help youth be successful in employment and enhance employment placement and retention outcomes, case managers will be responsible for working intensively with youth to obtain soft and occupational skills, address employment barriers, and provide ongoing support. As recommended in the JJ Guideposts, vocational programming will align with high-growth industries in the community and case managers will help youth seal or expunge their records, as well as prepare effective responses to employer's record-related questions. Sub-grantees will identify a job developer to build relationships with career-track employers, specifically targeting those in high-growth industries, to assist in placing youth in subsidized work experiences and unsubsidized employment, internships, and apprenticeships. Sub-grantees will prepare youth for unsubsidized, living-wage employment by offering supported, subsidized work experience opportunities. Sub-grantees will place youth ages 17 and under in internships and summer jobs and youth ages 18 and older in employment or apprenticeships. Youth will be paid at least minimum wage for at least 20 hours per week for at least six weeks. To provide work experiences, sub-grantees will partner with employers in high-demand industries and those career fields matching youth's personal career goals. Internships may include quality assurance at technology firms, production assistance at local media stations, or clerical assistance at healthcare companies. Following these work experiences, case managers will assist older youth with obtaining unsubsidized employment, apprenticeships, postsecondary education, or occupational skills training. The progression from self-exploration, through skill building, connection to education, internships and subsidized employment, to placement in postsecondary education and unsubsidized employment will help youth remain attached in the workforce with career-track jobs.

Education and Training

At every stage of the juvenile justice process, youth need to participate in educational programs grounded in content standards, with clear performance expectations and graduation options based on meaningful, accurate, and relevant indicators of student learning and skills. To ensure youth successfully complete high school diplomas, GEDs, and occupational credentials (including the Work Readiness Credential where available), sub-grantees will be required to have established relationships with the local public school system, alternative education programs, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, postsecondary institutions, and occupational training programs in high-demand fields.

When a youth is enrolled in this initiative, a case manager will identify his/her educational aptitude, needs, and goals as a part of the ICDP. Youth who have not yet attained a high school diploma or GED will be counseled on how completion of a high school credential will help them achieve personal career goals. Individualized goals for academic skills gains and secondary or postsecondary credential attainment will be included in youth's plans.

The ICDP will take into consideration specific accommodation and support needs of youth with disabilities, including learning disabilities and mental health conditions. Youth with disabilities will receive guidance on their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, including how to obtain accommodations and make decisions about disability disclosure.

Each sub-grantee will provide education and training services to 50 youth in facilities and 150 youth who reside in the community. IEL/CWD will provide guidance to sub-grantees and their juvenile justice agency partners on standards for high quality in-facility education services, as outlined in the JJ Guideposts: 1) youth have the opportunity to earn Carnegie units that transfer to public middle and high schools; 2) in-facility school is held accountable for providing a free and appropriate public education and has a sufficient number of general and special education teachers who are highly qualified and equitably compensated; 3) teachers use content enhancements, strategy instruction, and contextualized learning opportunities to provide youth with disabilities with access to the general education curriculum; 4) educational setting includes universal, secondary, and tertiary proactive approaches to promoting positive student behavior, as well as counseling services and social skills training; 5) teachers, secure care staff, and mental health professionals collaborate to ensure that students' emotional and behavioral needs are met and that appropriate strategies are used when addressing behaviors that are a manifestation of a student's disability; and 6) general and special educators within the facility collaborate with public schools concerning the youth's education, behavior, and transition plan implementation.

As they prepare to transition back to the community, youth residing in facilities will receive assistance enrolling in the secondary school, GED programs, or credit recovery program fitting their needs and goals. Youth residing in the community will receive educational advocacy support as needed to re-enroll in or transfer into a school or education program matching his/her needs. Sub-grantees will be required to demonstrate the capacity to provide educational advocacy support and place youth in supportive educational settings where they can earn high school diplomas or GEDs. Sub-grantees will be required to have a cooperative relationship with the local public school system and one or more alternative education provider (alternative school, GED program, credit recovery program) that commit to enrolling the youth to be served under this grant.

Youth who have already completed high school credentials will be enrolled in postsecondary education and training relevant to their career goals. Sub-grantees will be required to demonstrate the capacity to provide postsecondary transition counseling and assist youth with enrolling in and adjusting to postsecondary education and training. Priority will be given to sub-grantee applicants that have existing partnerships with postsecondary education institutions, occupational training programs, and pre-apprenticeship programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials.

Case Management

Case management will be coordinated by a team of case managers at each sub-grantee site. Each sub-grantee will be required to have three full-time case managers. These staff must have prior experience in case management, workforce development, and youth services. The case manager's role is to guide and support each youth through the comprehensive career development process from self-exploration to career planning and management. The case manager will assist youth in developing their ICDP. Using this plan, case managers will identify and connect youth to the education and workforce development options that best match the youth's current stage, skills, and goals. Case managers will serve as job coaches for youth to support their success and retention in work experiences and employment and as educational advocates supporting youth's school enrollment, attendance, academic achievement, and credential attainment. Case managers will also use the ICDP to connect youth to the supportive services they need for success including mental health services, substance abuse treatment, housing assistance, child care, transportation, appropriate attire and supplies for work, training, education, and other assistance.

Sub-grantees will be required to have existing relationships with community-based mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and other social services providers. Sub-grantees will be required to provide case management to confined youth starting 60-90 days before their transition home to ensure all needed services are in place at the youth's release. As outlined in the JJ Guideposts, case managers will ensure that youth understand each stage of the juvenile justice process and foster strong relationships with parole and probation officers.

To improve performance and attendance of younger youth in school and internships and older youth in employment and education, case managers will work with youth, mentors, community service providers, and other key stakeholders to thoroughly "wrap around" youth so their needs are met as they progress through all the components of the initiative. Case managers will provide ongoing follow-on support from the time of enrollment through the end of the grant period in order to promote their retention and success in education and workforce opportunities and continued connection to needed support services.

Mentoring

For Right Turn, IEL/CWD will incorporate elements and lessons learned from the RAMP career-focused mentoring model currently operating in 11 sites nationally (including a site working exclusively with youth in detention). Sub-grantees must have experience operating mentoring programs and identify a mentoring coordinator to manage mentor recruitment, training, matching, and supervision.

Sub-grantees will match at least 75% of Right Turn youth with mentors who will work with youth to develop and monitor progress on their ICDPs. Sub-grantees will match all youth in facilities with a mentor 60-90 days prior to release. Mentors will meet with youth in the facility, and they will continue working together as the youth return to the community. Mentors will be required to make a minimum one-year commitment, as research shows longer-term adult-youth relationships produce greater positive youth outcomes. Mentor-mentees matches will be based on career and educational interests, community proximity (especially for youth returning home from facilities), personal interests, and other factors.

Youth and mentors will meet together for at least an hour every week and work together on career development activities that support the ICDP goals. Mentors will help youth stay engaged and make progress in education and employment, constructively solve problems, access social services, and maintain contact to case managers and other members of their transition teams. As recommended in the JJ Guideposts, mentors will also help youth returning to their community address family and other transition-related issues. In addition to individual time spent with youth, mentors may work with youth in small group mentoring sessions. Mentors will help youth stay accountable for participation in internships, education, employment, and apprenticeships through regular individual contact and check-ins that can identify small challenges before they become big problems. Sub-grantees must be able to recruit at least 25 mentors (maintaining a 1:4 mentor/mentee ratio or less) from existing mentor pools or reach new mentors by advertising locally and connecting to community, faith-based, business, and postsecondary partners.

Using IEL tools, sub-grantees will screen mentors through standards and practices outlined by MENTOR, the national mentoring partnership, including a written application, personal and professional reference checks, federal sex offender screening, and criminal background checks. Sub-grantees will use IEL resources to train mentors on the basics of the program, working with ex-offenders, organization and detention facility policies, youth development, career-focused mentoring, establishing boundaries, relationship building, mandatory reporting, and connecting to resources. With IEL support, sub-grantees will be responsible for initial mentor orientations and ongoing training. IEL/CWD will provide mentor enrollment, screening, and training materials from its existing programs and share these during orientation and webinars.

Restorative Justice

Each Right Turn sub-grantee will engage at least 100 youth in Restorative Justice Projects to give back to their communities. These projects will be transformative for both youth and communities. The youth will gain not only workforce preparation and specific skills but a newfound vision of themselves as positive contributors to their community. Communities will benefit from the actual work completed, as well as from developing a new vision of these former "troubled" youth as positive assets. Also, a group of youth with leadership and workforce skills will be able to contribute to the tax-base of the community.

In each community, youth will be strategically placed in service projects during the Career Planning and Management phase of the program. Some youth may participate in quarterly service activities. Older youth's service project placement may be paid work experiences related to their interests. During all service projects, emphasis will be placed on youth acquiring specific career-related skills, as well as basic soft skills relevant to any work situation, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking. The JJ Guideposts highlight this type of service as a key opportunity for youth to exercise leadership and build self-esteem.

In all cases, the service projects will be related to specific community needs and completed in partnership with government agencies and other community-based organizations. Adequate youth to supervisor ratios (10 to 1) will be maintained by staff and partner personnel.

Some prior restorative justice programs have included working with the City Department of Transportation's Urban Forestry Division to plant trees in sparse urban communities; working with housing and weatherization assistance programs to weatherize homes of low-income individuals; and working with City water and energy divisions to install high-efficiency toilets, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and low-flow shower heads for low-income households and senior citizens. Sub-grantees will be required to specify in their application the types of restorative justice projects planned, any existing partnerships connected to those projects, supervision plans for youth, and the specific skills youth will develop during the project (e.g. basic plumbing, energy conservation, horticulture, customer service, teamwork, leadership, etc.).

Community-Wide Violence Reduction Efforts

IEL/CWD will work with each sub-grantee to create a plan for developing or strengthening collaborative efforts among faith-based and community organizations, government agencies, and social service providers to reduce violence in the communities being served. The JJ Guideposts confirm the importance of these positive community role models. IEL/CWD will assist each sub-grantee to conduct an environmental scan of pre-existing violence-prevention efforts and convene the leaders of these efforts and other community stakeholders to develop a plan for working together to reduce the rate of violence and increase employment and educational attainment in youths' communities.

Community stakeholders that sub-grantees will convene include local clergy and faith-based organizations; local law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals; social service agencies; and community-based organizations, including those offering workforce development, housing, education, mentoring, substance abuse, mental health, and other social services, supports, and opportunities that youth and families need.

Prior to these convenings, IEL/CWD will provide guidance to sub-grantees on successful strategies that they might replicate in their communities. Sub-grantees will create action plans from these convenings that outline how the community stakeholders commit to working together to implement similar strategies. Strategies may include targeting interventions to the highest-risk youth and neighborhood hotspots where the threat of violence is highest; promoting anti-violence messages through neighborhood walks and public awareness campaigns; training faith-based volunteers to conduct home visits and mentor high-risk youth; adopting gangs; and establishing ceasefire agreements. Real community change must come from the existing strongholds of the community. Sub-grantees will be required to demonstrate a commitment to working with these stakeholders on a violence-reduction strategy. Applicants with existing relationships with the targeted stakeholders will be given priority.

Post-Program Support and Follow-Up

Right Turn sub-grantees will provide nine months of post-program support and follow up to all 1000 enrolled youth. As the programs will have rolling enrollment and varying periods of service some youth who are placed in jobs or educational opportunities early in the program may be in follow up while others are still in the program or just enrolling. Sub-grantees will need to demonstrate strong follow-up procedures, including a system for maintaining, tracking, and documenting regular contact with program alumni and a wealth of post-program supports and services, including tutoring, mental health services, crisis management, transportation assistance, substance abuse counseling, peer support groups, and other community-based resources, as needed.

A post-program follow-up and support plan will be part of the transition plan completed for each youth at the end of their ICDP. As one prior program said, "From the minute a youth enters the door, we are preparing them to leave." It is critical to incorporate a closure plan that leaves youth, families, mentors, case managers, and other stakeholders satisfied.

Additionally, it is expected that all youth, and especially at-risk youth, will hit some "stumbling blocks" along the road to independence. Therefore, sub-grantees must build post-program supports into the program at the beginning, including monthly contacts for the first three months for all participants and then quarterly or monthly for the next 6 months depending on the youth's progress and retention level at educational or work placements. This follow-up should include, but is not limited to youth, families, parole/probation officers, school personnel, employers, counselors, and other community stakeholders connected to each youth.