by Douglas Evans and Sheyla Delgado
Research & Evaluation Center
Justice-involved youth are at high risk for failing or dropping out of school. Behavioral problems and difficulties at home increase their likelihood of suspension and expulsion. Mandated court appearances and out-of-home placements require youth to miss extended periods of school. Substance abuse, bullying, and learning disabilities also deter youth from attending and completing school. YAP Advocates work with youth to encourage their academic growth and support meaningful educational outcomes.
Education is important for youth who are at risk of justice system involvement. It is associated with a reduced likelihood of criminal behavior and a reduced risk of incarceration. For youth who lack encouragement and support at home to participate and succeed in school, Advocates work to connect them to educational resources, to motivate their desire to learn, and to assist in their academic achievement.
The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College examined a sample of 1,851 clients age of 14 and 17 who have been discharged from YAP. Post-discharge data for all youth discharged from YAP is not available, but comparisons indicate that youth for whom post-discharge data is unavailable are similar in demographic characteristics and risk factors to youth who provided post-discharge data.
Analyses indicate that participation in YAP was associated with a higher likelihood of academic achievement and greater school attendance. The percentage of YAP youth who graduated high school or earned a GED increased from entry (2%) to discharge (5%) and continued to increase up to a year following discharge from YAP (12%). The percentage of youth who were not attending school decreased from entry (10%) to post-discharge (less than 6%). Youth who were not attending school were suspended, expelled, awaiting enrollment, or enrolled but not attending. Ninety-one percent of those who had not yet graduated were still attending school full-time up to one year after discharge.
YAP services appear to have a positive effect on school attendance. More youth were attending school full-time or working on their GED up to a year following discharge (91%) compared to entry (82%). Of the youth who were not attending school at entry, 69 percent were attending full-time at discharge and 75 percent were attending school full-time six to 12 months after discharge.
YAP services appear to have a positive effect on the educational situations of high-risk youth. The percentage of youth with a prior misdemeanor or felony disposition who had graduated, earned a GED, or were attending school full-time increased between entry and up to one year following discharge. At entry, many youth with a prior misdemeanor or felony disposition were attending school full-time (80%) or had graduated high school or earned a GED (2%). At discharge, 83 percent were attending school full-time and four percent had graduated or earned a GED. Six to 12 months following discharge, 91 percent of youth with a prior misdemeanor or felony disposition had graduated, earned a GED, or were attending school full-time.
The percentage of YAP youth who were attending school full-time or had graduated or earned a GED increased from entry through post-discharge. Youth with prior out-of-home placements also experienced improvements in their educational situations from entry up to one year following their discharge. Of youth with one or more prior out-of-home placements, 74 percent were attending school full-time and five percent had graduated high school or earned a GED at entry. At discharge, 80 percent of these youth were attending school full-time and six percent had graduated or earned a GED. Up to one year after they were discharged from YAP, 90 percent of these youth were attending school full-time (74%) or had graduated or earned a GED (16%).
Education has academic value for young students, but it has many other benefits. Youth who are educated have the capacity to develop social and interpersonal skills that can enhance their community participation and citizenship. Additionally, education is correlated with employment, occupational advantages, and higher earnings in adulthood. Youth who succeed academically are more likely to have success beyond the classroom.
YAP Advocates support and encourage the academic engagement and development of youth clients. Advocates work with youth to address their individual academic needs so that youth are able to enroll in school, attend regularly, graduate or earn a GED, and pursue higher education if they so desire. The results of these analyses indicate that YAP supports the educational engagement and advancement of youth clients, even those with prior out-of-home placements and/or misdemeanor or felony dispositions.