How might transition planning evolve during incarceration?
Page 3: Transition Planning at System Entry
The first transition youth make occurs when they enter the JC facility itself. Typically, on the youth’s first day of incarceration, a facility staff member conducts a lengthy interview to learn more about his or her personal history, including information about his or her educational, employment, and independent living skills, strengths, needs, and goals.
Effective Transition Practices
On this page, we will discuss five of the six effective transition practices that are implemented at system entry.
|Create a Transition Team||Create a Transition Plan|
|Establish Quick Records Transfer||Utilize Evidence-Based Practices|
|Monitor the Transition Process|
The information gathered at this point will help to determine who should be part of the youth’s transition team, the purpose of which is to determine and oversee the services and supports the youth will receive from the time of system entry through aftercare. Ideally, this team should be led by a transition coordinator or specialist, who typically will be employed by the JC facility. Because the needs of incarcerated youth with disabilities are many and varied, transition teams should include educators, community service providers, juvenile justice officials, the youth him or herself, parents or guardians, and other stakeholders who must communicate and collaborate to help ensure a successful transition. Interagency collaboration—a process in which juvenile justice professionals establish partnerships with personnel from multiple agencies to improve outcomes for students with disabilities—is critical to successful transition planning.
Multidisciplinary Transition Team Members
The members of a given transition team should be selected with the incarcerated youth’s unique needs and goals in mind. Ideally, this team should include the student, a family member or guardian, and relevant juvenile justice personnel (e.g., teachers, probation or parole officer, transition coordinator). In addition to the required team members, other personnel are often needed to address the individual needs of the youth.
|Family member, guardian, or surrogate parent*||
|Education representative (e.g., one or more teachers from the facility)*||
|Special education teacher or representative*||
|A representative of the local school district||
|Related service providers (e.g., speech- language therapist)||
|Assessment specialist (e.g., school psychologist, reading specialist)*||
|Transition coordinator or specialist||
|Workforce development representative or employment service provider||
|Social services, foster care representative||
|Health and mental health services provider||
|Representatives from other community-based organizations (e.g., vocational rehabilitation, social security administration, recreational services)||
* Individuals required by IDEA to be in attendance for students with disabilities.
Deanne Unruh, PhD
Principal Investigator, STAY OUT
Co-Director, National Technical Assistance Center on Transition
Associate Research Professor
University of Oregon
For Your Information
A transition plan should not be a static document. Student progress toward transition-related goals should be monitored regularly, and changes to the plan should be made as necessary.
The transition team uses the information gathered at system entry to inform the youth’s transition plan (TP), a written document that will be used to guide all transition-related activities. The TP for each youth should be unique, because every youth has specific strengths, interests, and needs. The plan should actively involve the youth, and his or her family when possible, instead of simply being created for the youth.
Leslie LaCroix, MAT
Transition Specialist, Project RISE
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), youth with disabilities should have a transition plan in place by the time they turn 16 (or as early as 14 in some states or if the IEP team deems it necessary). This plan is called an individualized transition plan (ITP) and is a part of their individualized education program (IEP). The youth’s transition goals related to release to the community from the JC setting should be incorporated into the existing ITP.
To the greatest extent possible, the transition team should be familiar with and use evidence-based practices (EBPs). These interventions and supports can include general and special education practices, career and technical instruction, behavior management, mental-health treatment, and a variety of specialized supports such as anger management or drug-abuse counseling. Each area has different criteria or requirements for what constitutes an evidence-based practice, something that can make transition planning challenging. The following are examples of reliable, searchable indexes of evidence-based practices that might be applicable for those working with youth in JC settings.
|Area||Examples of Websites for EBPs|
|Education||What Works Clearinghouse|
|Substance abuse and mental health||Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)|
|Juvenile Justice||The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange *|
Addressing Key Areas of Transition at System Entry
Recall that transition planning should address the areas of education, employment, and independent living. The ways in which each of these areas are addressed at system entry will be discussed briefly below.
The transition plan needs to include information about the youth’s current level of educational functioning and his or her educational goals. Youth records (e.g., academic records, IEP) give JC personnel the information they need to evaluate and accommodate the needs of youth as they transition into and out of the juvenile justice system. The educational services the youth receives while incarcerated should support his or her long-term educational goals. For instance, does the youth want to receive a high school diploma or a GED? Does the youth want to pursue post-secondary education or training? Does the youth have a disability?
Key Activities at System Entry
- All education records—including IEPs—are requested from their previous school. The quick and efficient transfer of youth records and related information allows continuity of learning, services, and supports.
- The youth is screened for academic difficulties, including disabilities. The law requires that students with disabilities receive adequate educational supports and accommodations while incarcerated.
- The transition team begins meeting regularly.
- The team outlines in the transition plan the specific evidence-based practices that the youth will receive during incarceration to address his or her educational and behavioral issues. This should include general and special education programming, as well as career and technical instruction or training.
For Your Information
- Educational services might be provided by one of several entities, such as the juvenile corrections facility, the local public school system, private contractors, or a charter school. When both education and security are managed by the juvenile corrections facility, there is generally more communication between the education and security staff, something that can help to streamline the transition planning process.
- The team should consider and respect the student’s cultural beliefs and values. Implementing practices that align with the student’s cultural background and differentiating instruction accordingly can help increase student engagement.
All youth residing in a JC facility could benefit from some kind of employment training, particularly those over the age of 16. Even those returning to school after release might want to obtain a part-time job. Those who are younger might benefit from learning employment-related skills such as being on time and being reliable.
Key Activities at System Entry
- Staff interview the youth about his or her work experiences and future employment goals.
- Using this information, the transition team develops employment goals for the transition plan.
- The transition team outlines in the transition plan the specific evidence-based practices that the youth will receive during incarceration.
Independent-living skills address a broad range of functional living skills, from basic social skills to finding a place to live and managing a budget. They also include anger-management skills and physical and emotional wellness.
Key Activities at System Entry
- Staff administer screenings for mental health, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.
- Staff interview the youth about any previous mental health or counseling services he or she has received.
- Using this information, the team identifies the youth’s strengths, needs, and goals and develops independent-living goals for the youth.
- The team outlines in the transition plan the specific evidence-based practices that the youth will receive during incarceration to address his or her mental health, emotional, and behavioral issues.
During Carlos’ intake interview, he discusses having a learning disability and receiving special education services. He indicates that he struggles with reading and has difficulty in a number of subject areas. Because Carlos’ educational records have yet to arrive, the interviewer was unaware of Carlos’ learning difficulties. The intake coordinator also asks Carlos about his goals once he is released. Carlos responds that he does not want to return to his home or to his neighborhood.
Later, as the transition team meets and engages in the transition planning process, Carlos’ strengths and interests are considered in regard to education, employment, and independent-living goals. For example, he expresses an interest in working with his hands and in working with computers. Consequently, the team develops a transition plan that includes goals for earning academic credits and at the same time receiving training on computer diagnosis and repair. Because his reading skills are so low, Carlos will require accommodations in most of his classes, as well as intensive reading instruction. The team also determines that Carlos needs a host of independent-living skills (e.g., budgeting, transportation).