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Centers to help kids stay out of jail

Youth to receive career counseling, job skills before released from prison

POSTED: July 6, 2014 12:43 a.m.

As the Georgia prison system begins to enact re-entry measures touted and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, the juvenile system is seeking to provide early intervention toward gainful employment and away from crime.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles announced last week that the Department of Juvenile Justice is introducing a plan to open seven guidance centers for youth at long-term detention centers throughout Georgia.

The purpose of the program will be to help youth in DJJ custody depart detention armed with the skills and information to transition into the job market. And signaling the ongoing commitment to re-entry, the concept is being implemented by DJJ’s newly created Reentry Services Unit.

The new career guidance program is being developed for use in Youth Development Campuses in Americus, Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Midland and Milan. The Career Centers will be imbedded in existing educational areas and libraries at the YDCs, to be staffed by trained career guidance technicians

“We have empowered our Reentry Services Unit to do what it takes to help our youth make successful transitions back to their communities once their court-ordered commitments have been served,” Niles said in a news release. “This is just one of our strategic approaches working with Gov. Deal to reduce high rates of recidivism among juvenile offenders in Georgia.

“We’re opening these Youth Career Centers in DJJ’s seven long-term secure facilities where they can help accomplish the most to provide our local communities with educated and skilled employees who will work hard to increase their chances of long-term career success,” he added.

Niles stated research studies show a statistically significant reduction in recidivism for former youth offenders who are employed after receiving career education training in their communities.

And step one is to empower youth with positivity, giving them the reassurance of having a viable job skill.
“Once Georgia’s troubled youth develop needed job skills, our career counselors can teach them about career development and job retention and that’s another step. Then as their career skills advance and their court-ordered incarcerations come to an end, we can help transition those youth back into their communities as more marketable individuals,” he said. “Step by step, these youth will realize they have more control over their own futures and they can help increase their own chances of longer-term career success.”

Prior to being relinquished to their communities, DJJ youth will be required to develop their own career plans, make personal contact with Department of Labor representatives and attend meetings with Department of Labor Career Center reps. The Department of Labor representatives will be responsible for assisting the youth once they transition into their home communities.

“In order for Georgia’s re-entry program to be viable, programs like our new Youth Career Centers must provide the education and opportunities to learn the skills needed for the workforce of the future,” Niles said. “With Gov. Deal’s support, we will offer hope to our youth in detention, while protecting Georgia’s citizens for the long term.”


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