Juvenile Reentry Programs

  • Introduction


    This Model Programs Guide (MPG) I-Guide is focused on juvenile reentry programs. Juvenile reentry — sometimes called aftercare1 — refers to the services that prepare youth who serve time in out-of-home placements for their eventual return to the community. These reintegrative approaches establish collaboration with the community and its resources to ensure the delivery of needed services and supervision. Youth returning to the community face a variety of challenges (for instance, lack of familial support, barriers to education and employment, and finding permanent housing). These challenges can affect successful reintegration. Thus, the goal of reentry programs is to overcome some of the known challenges of transitioning youth from institutional settings back into community settings while reducing their recidivism rates and ensuring public safety.

    Juvenile reentry includes the provision of services both before and after release, to facilitate a juvenile's continuing reintegration in the community. These programs generally focus on changing youth's individual behavior and help them develop practical skill sets to prevent further delinquency and ensure their successful reentry into the community. There are several types of reentry programs with different components, of which this I-Guide provides a general overview, including the processes and factors that affect implementation. This I-Guide includes a variety of reentry research and provides useful suggestions on how to address common implementation challenges.

    How can this I-Guide help me?

    Users of this I-Guide can find guidance for any point in the pre-implementation stage of a reentry program, including those who

    • Want to implement a reentry program, but need more background information on how to assess the specific problems the program should address and the types of programs available.
    • May have identified a reentry program to implement, but need more information about procuring funds and establishing other supports to implement the program.
    • Are close to starting a reentry program in their community, agency, or organization, but want more information on issues such as sustainability or handling unanticipated setbacks that may occur once a program begins.

    For those looking for more information on reentry, the Model Programs Guide offers a variety of reentry programs and a literature review on juvenile reentry.

    Additionally, NIJ's offers a profile on Juvenile Aftercare Programs. This includes an evidence rating for the following outcome:

    • promising Crime and Delinquency – Multiple Crime/Offense Types

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  • Goal of this I-Guide

    The goal of this I-Guide is to provide information on the beginning stages of implementing a reentry program. The I-Guide includes research on programs that offer comprehensive reentry efforts for youth while they are in a juvenile facility2 and continue upon their transition to the community.

    To narrow the focus of the I-Guide, research and evaluations of evidence-based programs were included if they met one of the following standards:

    • The program was designed for juveniles placed in a juvenile facility, prior to their release into a community setting. Programs that included juveniles who were incarcerated in adult prisons or jails were excluded.
    • Reentry services began while youth were in residential placement and consisted of supervision and services intended to promote their successful reentry into the community.
    • The program evaluation looked at any outcome related to the behavior or well-being of youth in reentry programs (i.e., recidivism, mental health, substance abuse, family functioning, justice system costs), as long as youths' participation in the reentry program occurred prior to release.

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  • Steps to Take: Reentry Programming

    Below are the 10 steps of the MPG I-Guide on implementing reentry programs. You can view the steps in the order listed or go directly to those steps that are most relevant to your implementation process. The 10 steps are also listed in the blue box on the right side of the page, allowing you to easily navigate through the I-Guide.

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1Although the term aftercare was once more commonly used, reentry is now the preferred term, as reintegrative services generally begin before a youth is released into the community. Many agencies officially mandate that reentry planning begin at the time of initial placement. 2For the purposes of this I-Guide, a juvenile facility includes long-term residential facilities, secure confinement, and any other locked juvenile facilities, which serve all types of youth placements (dispositions, pre-adjudication, and adjudication). Such terms are used interchangeably throughout the I-Guide.