Prioritizing Family Involvement in Transition
Youth and family involvement in the transition plan are important components of a successful plan. Family support is a powerful, preventive mechanism that supports youth resiliency and has a significant impact on the successful reentry of youth in the corrections system back to their homes and communities. However, many parents of youth in correctional facilities often are not fully involved in their child’s education; this sometimes results from not getting sufficient or understandable information about the overall juvenile justice process. In addition, life stressors (e.g., financial or employment concerns, marital or relational issues, and transportation-related issues) often affect parents’ ability to participate in the education of their youth. Such barriers can hinder parental involvement with the juvenile justice system.
For youth with disabilities in correctional facilities, it also is important to ensure that families understand their legal rights and obligations and know how to navigate the logistical challenges that may arise during involvement with the juvenile justice system. Correctional facilities can help address barriers by (1) offering parent education programs focused on the juvenile justice process (including transition and reentry), (2) facilitating communication to promote parental participation, (3) improving intake forms to ensure the most up-to-date information is gathered, and (4) recognizing the barriers that exist so that parental involvement can be prioritized and tailored to specific needs. Further, involving families in transition planning from the onset of a youth’s entry into a correctional facility can support the development of more comprehensive plans that encompass the needs of families and those of youth. Engaging youth with disabilities and their families in transition planning should integrate the use of self-assessments along with need, preference, and interest assessment data, which can be factored into goal creation and planning for postsecondary outcomes within an individualized education program (IEP).