On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will discuss expanding educational and career resources for youth within the county’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
A motion, which will be introduced by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, aims to develop a training program to increase employment opportunities for these vulnerable young people.
“Additional strategies are needed to provide at-risk and system-involved youth with high-quality education opportunities and pathways into college and career,” according to the motion.
In L.A. County, the Department of Children and Family Services serves roughly 35,000 children and families. The Probation Department oversees 6,000 youth, with 1,100 youth in juvenile halls or probation camps.
Often the youth involved in these systems lack the guidance to succeed in school or the workforce. In a 2013 study done by the Stuart Foundation, “At Great Risk,” only 45 percent of California’s foster youth were found to have completed high school. And, on a national basis, 31 percent of former foster youth end up homeless upon leaving the system, according to a 2011 study conducted by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
For the past few years, the county has increased efforts to further the academic and professional success of these youth. In 2004, the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council was created to upgrade existing educational efforts to utilize trauma-informed care, data sharing and transition support systems. Also, the Los Angeles County Office of Education has begun to incorporate career and technical education into the curriculum used within probation camps and juvenile halls.
Building on this emphasis on multidisciplinary education and vocational preparation, county supervisors want to to integrate at-risk youth into the County’s growing transportation sector.
Through Measure M, passed last year, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will be launching infrastructure projects anticipated to bring 778,000 jobs and yield $133.6 billion. Metro is in the process of constructing a program model that would provide job and educational training specific to transit-related careers. This program would be intended for middle and high-school students currently involved with the county’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
Stressing the importance of self-sufficiency and long-term planning, the motion looks to introduce local youth to educational opportunities and potential careers at an early age and help ease their transition into adulthood.