Report: Collaborative Outcomes from the Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice

Contact Information

National Youth Employment Coalition

Mimi Haley

Executive Director


Release Date:

October 11, 2022



Washington D.C., October 11, 2022 — The National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC) released a report “Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice: Lessons Learned.” The report details the successes and outcomes of a year-long partnership with 11 cities and counties throughout the United States. NYEC worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), and Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) to improve outcomes for youth with justice involvement by increasing collaboration among local workforce and juvenile justice systems.


The community of practice included probation officers, directors of juvenile justice departments, frontline workforce providers, and directors of workforce programs. Other participants were a juvenile court’s presiding judge, a representative from a district attorney’s office, and members of a city workforce development board. Over a year, the community of practice held monthly sessions that focused on specific topics of interest to the jurisdictions — for example, serving more youth, expanding their employment activities, and accessing more support services. These sessions often featured experts from the field.


Among the outcomes of the cross-system collaborations:

  • In Tacoma, Washington the juvenile court and Goodwill Industries formalized a partnership in which youth on probation or under court supervision could enroll in Goodwill’s Education, Employment and Training program and be paid for occupational certificate trainings.


  • In Philadelphia, the office of the district attorney formalized an agreement with the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program, which will enroll youth diverted from the justice system and enable them to earn up to $1,000 while in job training.


  • In Birmingham, Alabama the court’s family reunification program for youth in out-of-home placements, which helps families conduct supervised visits with young people, has been expanded to address their transportation, mental health, and employment needs.


Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations

The report includes an in-depth analysis of recommendations and resources that practitioners, young adults, and state and local policymakers can implement to improve outcomes for youth with systems involvement.

Recommendations from Young Adults:

  • A Better System for All: Today’s juvenile justice and workforce systems are not typically tailored to the individualized experience of the youth adults that interact with them
  • Preparation is Key: Youth-serving professionals should help youth understand how and why each step in the employment process is important, including the application process, the cover letter, resume, and interview prep.
  • Eliminate Barriers: One of the biggest barriers that youth face is not knowing who to talk about career options, transportation, criminal history, and lack of technology.

Recommendations for Cross-System Collaboration:

  • As a part of a young adults’ re-entry process (which should occur before the date of release), juvenile justice officials should pair them with a workforce provider so that they have adequate career navigation
  • Leverage the convening power of judges to establish plans for collaboration
  • Formalize workforce development as an alternative to confinement and out-of-home placement and include workforce training in probation and aftercare plans.

Recommendations for Improving Mental Health:

  • Encourage mental health screenings upon intake to the workforce development and other human services systems.
  • Increase training for frontline practitioners in the workforce-development and other human-services fields, so they can identify mental health warning signs and make initial assessments
  • Increase the availability of mental health services with dedicated funding for in-house services among WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) youth program providers.


We would like to thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation for funding this research and acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this report are those of NYEC, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.