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Youth Reentry and Family Engagement



On any given day, there are more than 36,479 juveniles 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.  

The Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants for comprehensive reentry services, direct pre-and post-release services, and sustainable justice system improvements that promote positive youth and family outcomes, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety.

Second Chance Month

Every April, OJJDP observes Second Chance Month in support of youth's successful reentry back into their communities. Read the presidential proclamation for Second Chance Month.

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

In fiscal year (FY) 2021, OJJDP awarded more than $14.4 million in Second Chance Awards to help implement and sustain effective reentry programs:

  • Second Chance Act: Youth Reentry Program | FY 2021 Award: $9,970,249
    OJJDP grants help 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.
  • Second Chance Act: Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children | FY 2021 Award: $4,467,389
    OJJDP supports programs 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.

Between FY 2019 and FY 2021, OJJDP awarded $36.8 million to help justice-involved youth and parents build brighter futures and achieve long-term success.

From the Field

Based in Oakland, CA, the WE RISE Project serves youth with gang affiliations who are returning to their community after confinement. A dedicated probation office and a life coach help youth meeting the terms of their probation, reintegrate into school, secure employment, strengthen relationships with family and prosocial groups, and disengage from gang activity. Services begin prerelease and continue post-release. 

Staff leverage their knowledge of the community's strengths to provide opportunities and improve outcomes for youth. WE RISE recently helped a youth facing homelessness gain admission to a school that provides room and board. The youth had a voice and a choice in every step of the process. 

Remarking on the project's youth-centered approach, another former participant said, "My probation officer made me feel like I could come to him with anything. He learned what I'm all about, what matters to me, and what my goals are." 


OJJDP Contact

Kellie Blue
Associate Administrator
Intervention Division
[email protected]

Reentry Starts Here | OJJDP
Reentry Starts Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections or Treatment Programs

OJJDP Resources

Date Created: February 27, 2020