The move from the closely monitored environment in a secure facility to less structured life in the community can be overwhelming to the juvenile offender. Youth reentering public school systems from custodial settings frequently are alien-ated from the formal education process. Without help, they may drop out of school or be expelled for exhibiting inappropriate behaviors. These high-risk youth cannot be expected to succeed in a vacuum. Young people, particularly troubled young people, need structure, supervision, and support. Schools and community agencies should seek to improve their capacity to respond effectively to the needs of these troubled youth.
A number of significant and innovative programs and strategies have been developed for helping delinquent youth reenter the education mainstream. Foremost is the trend toward improving communication among all of the agencies and other entities involved in helping these youth develop and achieve positive goals. Communities must forge partnerships among public and private youth-serving agencies to provide a continuum of treatment and aftercare services for juvenile offenders and their families.
Educational services provided to juvenile offenders, both within juvenile correctional facilities and outside in the community schools, must reflect current educational philosophy, curriculum content development, and instructional techniques. Instruction must be relevant to these students' interests and needs and must allow them to make connections to real-life situations. These students can profit from challenging tasks that allow them to develop problem-solving skills. They also need job skills training to prepare them for future employment. With the full support of their schools and communities, they can make the transition back to school and build a future as responsible and successful adults.