FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For further information, contact:
Mandy Nace, 267-765-6319
Project SUCCESS will provide educational advocacy for youth in the criminal justice system
PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 8, 2018) The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has awarded the Defender Association a $150,000 Justice Assistance Grant to launch Project SUCCESS (Strengthening and Understanding Court-Involved Children’s Education Supports & Services).
When children do better in school, they are less likely to be involved in the court system. Project SUCCESS will significantly reduce the overreliance on youth placements outside of the home due to truancy and educational issues. Defender Association attorneys and staff, along with project stakeholders, will provide support for youth, families, and educators to support young people’s success in diversion programs and assist in the educational needs of youth returning from placement.
“Every kid in Philadelphia deserves access to high-quality education – including those involved in the criminal justice system,” said Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey. “Project SUCCESS will help youth and their families get the necessary resources to support academic success and reduce further involvement in the juvenile justice system. We’re grateful to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for supporting our work to improve the strength and safety of our communities by ensuring justice-involved children’s educational needs are thoroughly addressed.”
Writing in support of the project, Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym added, “This project fills an existing gap in juvenile justice services by directly supporting the educational needs of court-involved youth. A combination of school policies, a lack of resources, and an increased presence of law enforcement in Philadelphia schools combine to push youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBT-GNC youth out of school and into the justice system at disproportionate rates. This program will add critical value to existing reform measures and strengthen efforts to ensure that youth do not end up in the juvenile justice system for issues that can be addressed through education supports and services in local schools and communities.”
Project SUCCESS will not only support youth access to education in the justice system, but will reduce school-based arrests, support more pre-trial diversion programs for youth with educational needs, and ultimately help kids stay in school.
In 2016, issues such as truancy, lateness, and poor school performance/behavior were cited in nearly one of every three cases resulting in out-of-home placement. By providing community-based alternatives that address a child’s educational needs as an alternative to out-of-home placement, Project SUCCESS will save taxpayer dollars and create better outcomes for youth, families, and communities.
“Project SUCCESS will allow us to problem-solve educational issues to set kids on the right track for a fulfilling life,” said Leola Hardy, chief of the Defender Association’s Children and Youth Justice Unit. “By referring kids to Project SUCCESS, we can ensure their critical access to high-quality education isn’t limited by the court system.”
The Defender Association also plans to develop a case management system to track and evaluate youth clients working with Project SUCCESS to support sustainability of the project beyond the PCCD grant.
The Defender Association is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, client-centered legal representation, connection to social services, and re-entry support to adults and juveniles in Philadelphia. Our organization represents more than 70 percent of adults and youth arrested in the City of Philadelphia.