The Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants for comprehensive reentry planning, direct pre- and postrelease services, and sustainable justice system improvements that promote positive youth and family outcomes, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety.
On any given day, there are approximately 25,000 youth in residential placement. Most of these youth will return to their communities, and need support to make the transition successfully. Children of incarcerated parents also need support to mitigate the unintended consequences of parental incarceration. Parents may have difficulty maintaining meaningful contact with their children and children may lose critical supports such as consistent caregiving and housing. Youth involved in juvenile justice systems and children of incarcerated parents are both more likely to have experienced other traumatic events than their peers.
Through its Second Chance programs, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) helps to strengthen families and provide youth with educational and vocational opportunities, employment and housing assistance, mental and physical healthcare, family programming, and substance use treatment to help them overcome barriers to successful reentry.
Second Chance Month
Every April, OJJDP observes Second Chance Month in support of youth's successful reentry back into their communities.
OJJDP's Second Chance Act programs provide specialized services to youth released from residential placement and promote family engagement between incarcerated parents and their children when it is in the best interest of the child. The programs are part of the Office's comprehensive approach to enhance public safety, hold youth accountable when they offend, and empower all youth to live up to their full potential.
Programs & Funding
Between fiscal years (FYs) 2020 and 2022, OJJDP awarded $43.7 million to help justice-involved youth and parents build brighter futures and achieve long-term success.
OJJDP allocated more than $18 million for two programs—the Second Chance Act Youth Reentry Program and the Second Chance Act Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children program—to help communities strengthen effective youth reentry programs.
The Second Chance Act: Youth Reentry Program helps communities plan, implement, and sustain juvenile justice system improvements, direct services, and evidence-based programs for youth. Projects emphasize comprehensive planning for reentry while youth are confined, individualized pre- and post-release services, and program evaluation.
The Second Chance Act: Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children program supports initiatives in correctional facilities that encourage prosocial family engagement between parents in secure confinement and their minor children, when it is in the best interest of the child. The grants also fund reentry services for parents and programs that support positive youth development.
From the Field
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is using an OJJDP grant to enhance reentry programming in its six long-term detention facilities, emphasizing family engagement, mentoring, and workforce development.
It starts with developing a reentry plan within 60 days of the youth's detention. A multidisciplinary team—which includes a reentry specialist, juvenile detention counselor, community case manager, and mental health counselor—meets with the youth and family. As the release date nears, the team meets monthly, joined by a reentry resource coordinator who connects the family with local service providers and an education specialist who helps facilitate a return to high school or enrollment in postsecondary school or technical college.
Factors that contribute to the project's success include an emphasis on family engagement. Monthly "family chats" address topics such as financial literacy, nutrition, and substance use, and a 10-week course emphasizes ways to strengthen family communications.
- Data Snapshot: What Young People Say Matters (PbS Youth Reentry Survey analysis)
- Data Snapshot: What Young People Say Matters (Youth Climate Survey and Reentry Survey analysis)
- Expunging Juvenile Records: Misconceptions, Collateral Consequences, and Emerging Practices
- In Focus Fact Sheet: Youth Reentry and Family Engagement
- Model Programs Guide: Implementation Guide: Juvenile Reentry Programs
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Juvenile Reentry
- National Governors' Association: State Strategies to Address the Needs of Justice-Involved Youth Impacted by Collateral Consequences
- OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book: Juvenile Reentry & Aftercare
- Reentry Starts Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections or Treatment Programs