As Reentry Week comes to a close, we must pay tribute to the important work being accomplished toward helping juvenile justice-involved children return to their communities following assignment to out-of-home residential placements in Juvenile Justice facilities. Two exciting initiatives related to reentry began in April.
The first example of the reentry work taking place in our juvenile justice system comes from the partnership between Juvenile Education Services and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. This partnership – focused on the rehabilitation and education of at-risk youth – initiated the PETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services) program at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center in Concord. The PETS program enables juvenile justice-involved students with disabilities, substance abuse and/or mental health diagnoses to enhance their educational opportunities through access to job exploration/counseling, work-based learning experiences, workplace readiness training and instruction in self advocacy.
The initial PETS sessions at Stonewall Jackson YDC were held in early April, and focused on Employment Marketing Skills/Work Readiness training and Job Exploration-Interest Assessments. Stonewall Jackson teacher Belinda Cauthen; EC Specialist Kenya Beyah-Murphy; and Cynthia Trickel, director of Student Support, have been instrumental in the initiation of this program at Stonewall Jackson YDC. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is recruiting a PETS coordinator to support the statewide implementation of this program.
Also in April at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center was the initiation of its C-Tech program. This first class includes five students who have met specific criteria. To begin this program, two of the YDC’s educators – Syerita Kimbrough (CTE Teacher) and Vashita Neely (EDA II) – attended a week-long intensive training in New Jersey to become certified C-Tech instructors for the Telecommunications and Copper Cabling courses.
At the end of this six-week program, students who successfully demonstrate mastery the curriculum by passing a certification test will receive a Telecommunications Technologies Certification and Network Cabling Specialist Copper Systems Certification. The knowledge, skills and industry recognized certifications obtained through this training will prepare students for entry-level IT positions.
The Telecommunication Technologies course is an introductory training which teaches all aspects of modern connectivity methods. Students learn the history, theory and transmission mediums of communications, as well as Smart Home technologies found in home and businesses.
The Network Cabling: Copper Based Systems course uses patented workstations to teach students the basics of copper cabling, installation, construction and troubleshooting using up-to-date industry standards and real-world workplace simulations.
In the future, Juvenile Education Services plans to implement the C-Tech curriculum at additional YDC locations and increase the certification programs offered to students. Workplace readiness and proven job skills are valuable tools as students return to their communities.