The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), recently launched a new web-based toolkit on Improving Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections. As recently noted by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice the fact that a student has been charged with or convicted of a crime does not diminish his or her substantive rights or the procedural safeguards and remedies provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). More than 60,000 youth are currently in juvenile correctional facilities, and a large portion of these youth are identified as having a disability, yet less than half report that they are receiving special education services. This toolkit includes evidence- and research-based practices, tools, and resources that educators, families, facilities, and community agencies can use to better support and improve the long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile correctional facilities. The toolkit focuses on four key areas: facility-wide practices, educational practices, transition and re-entry practices, and community and interagency practices.
- Faculty-wide practices ensure a continuum of supports focused on prevention and consistent reinforcement of expectations across facility environments. Facility-wide practices include a Continuum of Academic and Behavioral Supports and Services, Trauma-Informed Care, and Restorative Justice.
- Educational practices are used to improve educational outcomes for youth with disabilities in correctional facilities, youth must receive the educational, social-emotional, behavioral, and career-planning services they are eligible for under the IDEA. Educational practices that can be leveraged to improve outcomes comprise Access to High-Quality Education, Individualized Instruction, and IDEA Compliance.
- Transition and re-entry practices are suggested to ensure that youth with disabilities exit correctional facilities ready to return to school, community, or employment settings, effective transition and reentry practices must be planned and coordinated. Practices include Transition Planning Beginning at Entry, Prioritizing Family Involvement, and Coordinating Aftercare Services.
- Community and interagency practices offer services for youth with disabilities should be coordinated across the variety of partners (e.g., schools, community agencies, and probation) they engage with while in and out of correctional facilities. These practices involve Interagency Agreements, Expeditious Records Transfer, and Staffing.
Lastly, the toolkit includes linked resources to support the use of the State Correctional Education Self-Assessment (SCES). The SCES will help State Educational Agencies (SEAs) identify systems-features and interagency collaboration that need to be in place in order to improve practices for youth with disabilities in correctional facilities.