Not going to lie: Before this week, JJ Today had not heard of the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk (NDTAC).
A quick check on the Internet shows it’s a 6-year-old nonprofit that was set up by the U.S. Department of Education to assist states with education planning for its most disadvantaged youth. The predominant financial source for such ventures is the department’s Title I, Part D funding, which gives about $48 million to state agencies and $106 million to local agencies each year.
NDTAC’s new toolkit on re-connecting incarcerated youth to the education system appears to be an excellent resource, and it’s available for free on its website. It’s a serious matter, as everyone knows, because poor planning on this issue can cause systems to turn youth away from schools that they have every right to attend; ignore credits accumulated by youth while they were locked up; or plop them into school settings where everyone assumes they will be problems to the community rather than assets.
If we had to summarize the toolkit in one phrase, it would be: Plan early and keep records. That’s because states that start individual education and after-care plans for youths when they begin incarceration do much better than states that handle education as part of the release plan. And systems that use technology that allows JJ and education systems to share info and track youth do much better at effectively bringing those youth back to school.
With each suggestion for smoothing the transition back to school, the toolkit connects readers to entities that have already succeeded in that regard.