New project strives to break cycle of youth crime in Pennsylvania
March 10, 2009
Source: Models for Change Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has long been recognized as a progressive leader in juvenile justice reform, a reputation that led the John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation to select Pennsylvania as a flagship state for their Models for Change initiative.
Everyone in Pennsylvania agrees: more needs to be done to promote safety and keep young people on the right track; and Models for Change in Pennsylvania is leading the way – creating models to protect our communities, holding youth accountable for their actions, and ensuring that children grow up to be healthy, productive tax payers rather than a tax burden. One of those models is an innovative inter-county collaboration sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers. Capitalizing on the combined influence of Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties, the Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training (PACTT) Alliance strives to improve the academic and career and technical training that delinquent youth receive while in residential placement, and in their home communities upon return.
The PACTT Alliance seeks to breakdown systemic barriers youth face when returning from placement to their home community (e.g. issues around transfer of credits); and to set-up processes and procedures to ensure a smooth transition from education and career and technical training programs available in residential placement facilities to training programs and jobs that are available in their home community (e.g. establishing technical training programs in facilities that are linked to industry recognized standards and are in industry’s with jobs available in the youths home community). PACTT brings together professionals from across systems—juvenile justice, education, labor and industry, public welfare, residential providers—at both the state and county levels to identify and implement solutions to structural impediments for youth reintegrating back home from a placement facility.
Failing to successfully transition these youth back into society is costly — the expense to send one youth back into a rehabilitation facility (around $170,000) could send ten young people to Penn State University for one year.
Reducing systemic barriers to reintegration and providing opportunities to kids who otherwise would be at risk of re-offending and returning to the juvenile justice system will ultimately improve public safety--citizens are protected from the human and financial costs that come with the repeated cycle of delinquency. When our young people succeed, so do our communities.