Building Brighter Futures

Katherine Burdick, Jessica Feierman, Catherine Feeley, Autumn Dickman, and Robert G. Schwartz. ,
Screenshot of cover.

Youth typically enter juvenile justice placements with significant educational deficits. Many have already endured a myriad of barriers to educational success, including under-resourced schools, exclusionary school discipline policies, and overly-restrictive educational placements. Placement in a juvenile justice facility presents a turning point: without appropriate programming and coordination, too many youth fall further behind while in custody. Indeed, nationally, as many as two-thirds of youth drop out of school after release from juvenile facilities.

In Building Brighter Futures: Tools for Improving Academic and Career/Technical Education in the Juvenile Justice System, Juvenile Law Center examines one particular initiative that has shown great success in combating this problem—the Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance (PACTT). PACTT’s model suggests that, despite the inevitable stress and disruption of juvenile placement, thoughtful interventions can help youth to get back on track.

With funding through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change initiative, this publication highlights some of the principles and approaches PACTT has used, and identifies approaches that could be replicated and codified in policies in other jurisdictions. It is designed to help jurisdictions launch needed initiatives, build on existing initiatives most effectively, and codify effective approaches in state or local policy. The Toolkit also sets forth ideas for collecting data to measure the success of initiatives like PACTT.