Section 6: Reentry
3 Hours

Lecture Topic TOPIC: REENTRY

Speaking of parents and caregivers, let’s spend a few minutes talking about their involvement in the broader reentry and aftercare planning process.

Use SlideUse Slide #22: Promoting Early Involvement of Families

Practical Strategies to Promote the Early Involvement of Families in the Reentry and Aftercare Planning Process

A question that is often raised by practitioners who work with youthful sex offenders in the context of reentry and aftercare planning is how to involve parents, caregivers, and family members. As discussed in the supervision section of this training, for a host of reasons, parents and caregivers are sometimes resistant to taking an active role in the management process. As you think about including them, here are some practical strategies to remember:   

Are there any other strategies that you’ve found helpful in your efforts to engage and include family members in the reentry and aftercare planning process?

(ALLOW FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSES.)

So let’s move on from family issues and return to a discussion of a number of other key issues, concerns, and barriers that must be addressed in the reentry and aftercare plan.

Use SlideUse Slide #23: Elements of a Comprehensive Reentry and Aftercare Plan

Educational Needs

When thinking about the educational needs of youth who are in residential or institutional programming, there are several key considerations that should be addressed prior to a juvenile’s release.

Vocational Needs

For those older juveniles who have either completed school or will not return to it in the community, it’s important to assist them with the development and enhancement of skills and competencies necessary to secure (and maintain) viable employment upon release. Vocational training should be targeted toward individual skills, interests, and aptitudes; if it continues in the community, it should build upon residential programming.

As juveniles prepare to exit residential or institutional programs, attempts to match them to potential employers in the community can help to promote successful community reintegration and stability. Youth—employer matching should be based on their skills, aptitudes, and interests, and victim and potential victim safety concerns. As discussed in the supervision presentation, there may be some types of employment that are not appropriate for youthful sex offenders because they may place them in potentially risky situations or give them access to individuals who may be vulnerable.

Interagency agreements between juvenile justice, workforce, and social services entities can also be used to pool resources to “sponsor” a juvenile’s placement with a specific employer in the community. The employer is able to commit more comfortably to hiring the juvenile offender for a probationary period without any financial risk. Then, provided that probationary period is completed successfully, the employer agrees to maintain the juvenile on a permanent basis and assumes the costs of the wages and benefits.

Life and Independent Living Skills

As has been discussed during this training, a primary rehabilitative goal for juvenile sex offenders who are in residential or institutional facilities is to equip them to return to their communities, where they will be productive, contributing citizens. While focusing on “higher level” skills and competencies as targets of treatment interventions, it is also important that professionals do not assume that juveniles possess basic life skills. Therefore, prior to—and following—release, steps should be taken to ensure that such skills are developed, maintained, and enhanced.

For some juveniles, particularly those who are older and for whom returning to their families or other supports is not an option, independent living skills will be crucial. Issues that may need to be addressed with these youth prior to, during, and after release include banking and money management, shopping, hygiene, obtaining identification (e.g., state identification, library card, driver’s license), identifying and securing public assistance, securing health insurance, accessing affordable housing, and transportation.

Community Supervision Strategies

It’s important for community supervision to begin prior to release, with the assignment of a juvenile parole officer or aftercare caseworker or manager early in the planning process, so that potential barriers and problems in the community can be identified and addressed before the juvenile returns. As was discussed in the supervision section, surveillance-driven and punishment-oriented approaches alone are largely ineffective with juvenile offenders.48 Supervision models that are rehabilitation-oriented—and that utilize case management strategies—are associated with positive outcomes for youth and reduced recidivism.49

Supervision officers or aftercare caseworkers or managers (who are, ideally, specially trained to manage juvenile sex offenders) should understand, value, and support the rehabilitative programs and services provided within the residential or institutional programs and work to link juveniles to—and support their successful participation in—complementary interventions in the community. The overall goal of supervision officers should be to ensure that juveniles transition successfully from residential and institutional programs and maintain stability in the community.

Beyond the rehabilitation and supervision efforts directed at the juvenile, successful reentry and aftercare can be impacted significantly by family-related issues and other environmental factors, such as the presence of negative adults and peers.50 Therefore, prior to release, supervision officers or aftercare case managers or workers should identify members of community support networks who can serve as “informed supervisors.”  As discussed during the supervision presentation, these individuals are critical because the presence of positive, prosocial adults in the lives of juveniles is a significant protective factor that reduces the likelihood of delinquent behavior.51 These adults can also help to facilitate the transition process by serving as extra sets of eyes and ears for the supervision officer, supporting the juvenile’s successful participation in community-based programs and services, and modeling appropriate, pro–social behavior.

As has been discussed already, parents and caregivers are the most logical examples of informed supervisors, so it’s critical that they be involved early in the reentry and aftercare planning process. This will help to guarantee that they are equipped and ready to support the supervision process when the juvenile returns to the community. Other common examples of informed supervisors are school personnel (like teachers, counselors, and coaches), employers, youth mentors, and other volunteers.

Community Hostility Concerns

A final, critical issue to be addressed during the reentry and aftercare planning process is the possibility that these youth may experience hostility from some community members for committing a sex offense. It’s the responsibility of those who work with these juveniles as they reenter the community to help them to use the coping skills they learned in treatment to manage this hostility in appropriate ways.

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