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Advocacy and Collaborative Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth
 Mikah C. Owen, Stephenie B. Wallace and COMMITTEE ON ADOLESCENCE

Children and adolescents who become involved with the justice system often do so with complex medical, mental health, developmental, social, and legal needs. Most have been exposed to childhood trauma or adversity, which both contribute to their involvement with the justice system and negatively impact their health and well-being. Whether youth are held in confinement or in their home communities, pediatricians play a critical role in promoting the health and well-being of justice-involved youth. Having a working knowledge of the juvenile justice system and common issues facing justice-involved youth may help pediatricians enhance their clinical care and advocacy efforts. This policy statement is a revision of the 2011 policy “Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” It provides an overview of the juvenile justice system, describes racial bias and over representation of youth of color in the justice system, reviews the health and mental health status of justice-involved youth, and identifies advocacy opportunities for juvenile justice reform.

Advocacy and Collaborative Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth


Prison to Employment

Operation New Hope is one of seven community based organizations contracted by San Bernardino County and Riverside County Workforce Development Boards to deliver the Prison to Employment services.

The Corrections Workforce Partnership Agreement is intended to strengthen linkages between the state workforce and corrections systems in order to improve the process by which the formerly incarcerated and justice-involved* individuals reenter society and the labor force. The Prison to Employment Initiative was a grant program that included in the Governor’s 2018 Budget proposal and includes $37 million over three budget years to operationalize integration of workforce and reentry services in the state’s 14 labor regions. The goal is to improve labor market outcomes by creating a systemic and ongoing partnership between rehabilitative programs within California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the state workforce system by bringing CDCR under the policy umbrella of the State Workforce Plan.

* “Justice-involved” refers to individuals who are on parole, probation, mandatory supervision, or post-release community supervision and are supervised by, or are under the jurisdiction of, a county or the CDCR.

California releases approximately 36,000 people from the state prison each year, a portion of whom have received in-prison job-training rehabilitative services such as Career Technical Education (CTE) or have participated in programs operated by the California Prison Industry Authority (CalPIA). Concurrently, California manages federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds through its State Workforce Plan developed by the California Workforce Development Board (State Board), and implemented by Local Workforce Development Boards (Local Boards) across the state.

While there is some, often informal, coordination between these two systems there is no formal, sustained, and systemic, relationship between them. Some reentry and workforce programs have been created to target certain subpopulations of the state’s supervised population, as discussed below, and while these programs have provided good data and lessons learned, an ongoing marriage of the two systems is needed to better integrate services operating in isolation, and to fill gaps and provide holistic and long-term outcomes to reduce recidivism.

As part of Governor Brown’s efforts to improve California’s criminal and juvenile justice systems and reduce recidivism through increased rehabilitation, the State Board, CDCR, CalPIA, and California Workforce Association (CWA) have finalized a partnership agreement which is included in amendments to the California WIOA Unified Strategic Workforce Development Plan 2016-2020.

The partnership agreement will better link education, job training, and work experience in prison to post-release jobs by fostering a system of coordinated service delivery to a population that faces a variety of barriers. It serves as a blueprint for building local and regional partnerships to improve labor market outcomes and reduce recidivism. Policy strategies outlined in this agreement include:

  1. Sector Strategies
  2. Career Pathways
  3. Organizing Regionally
  4. Earn and Learn
  5. Supportive Services
  6. Integrated Service Delivery and Braided Resources
  7. Building Cross-System Data Capacity

The partnership agreement will inform policies specific to California’s 14 Labor Regions, 45 Local Workforce Development Boards, and 200 contracted America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs), and how they serve the state’s formerly incarcerated and justice-involved population.               

The partnership agreement and Prison to Employment Initiative build off of existing grants and initiatives administered by the State Board that targets the formerly incarcerated and justice-involved population. These programs include Workforce Accelerator Fund, ForwardFocus: AB 2060 Supervised Population Workforce Training, and Proposition 39 Pre-Apprenticeship. This new approach takes the best of the existing initiatives; and integrates these into systemic and ongoing change through the development of regional plans to coordinate service delivery based on local labor conditions, resources, and partners.

*content from CA Workforce Development Board

Graduation 2020

COVID-19 Could not lock out Class of 2020

Written by: Santiago Madrigal (Alumni 2017)

Operation New Hope (ONH) celebrates a decade of high school graduation ceremonies with John Muir Charter Schools. Number ten will be remembered as the year of COVID-19, the typical graduation ceremony hosted at San Bernardino Valley College’s historic theater was modified to meet the needs of “social distance” requirements. ONH staff coordinated a drive through ceremony for the class of 2020.


ONH was established in 1980 as a means of preparing ‘disconnected youth’ for the realities of adulthood. In 2009, Operation New Hope received critical funding from the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). That funding allowed the program to partner with John Muir Charter Schools. The partnership with John Muir Charter Schools provides ONH students with a high school education that is tailored to the student’s needs. The partnership provides students with small class sizes and a family-like atmosphere that teaches the importance of life, job and leadership skills.

‘Disconnected youth’ or ‘opportunity youth,’ are youth who are ages 18 – 24 years old who did not graduate from high school or working. Research shows ‘disconnected youth’ are more likely to experience poor health, lower incomes, unemployment, and or incarceration as adults. Russell Degnan, CEO stated “It is crucial for students to receive their high school diploma. Having their diploma allows them to gain employment or enroll in a secondary institution.”

The class of 2020 produced 17 high school graduates. Prior to the overnight COVID-19 changes to classroom instruction we had expected 28 students to graduate, Degnan said. Unfortunately many students struggled with the online learning platform. Operation New Hope runs 2 Youth Opportunity Center’s in San Bernardino County, partnering with John Muir Charter Schools and Innovation High School to provide youth with a state accredited (WASC) high school diploma. 429 youth have received their high school diploma through ONH’s Youth Opportunity Center’s since 2010.

“We provide our students with soft skill sets that make them attractive to potential employers,” Degnan explained. “They receive training on job readiness, financial literacy, leadership, anger management, substance abuse, and everything in between.” To prepare their students for the realities of life, youth complete life skills workshops and workforce workshops building a career portfolio, learning the value of work ethics, earning vocational certificates, and completing work experience projects. “Each element of our program is critical to building healthy young men and women,” Degnan said.

ONH Youth Opportunity Center’s are located in downtown San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga. Programs offer year round enrollment and year round programming. The schools provide summer school in the month of July, to learn more or to enroll visit their website or contact the San Bernardino center at 909.380.0641 or the Rancho Cucamonga center at 909.527.3894