For many youth prosecuted and incarcerated in the criminal justice system, life during and after release is challenging. Any criminal charges can often act as a prison sentence, even once youth are back home. However, over the past few years, a growing number of businesses have been recognizing that potential and giving formerly incarcerated youth a chance.
When young men and women enter the juvenile justice system in South Carolina, they are being held accountable for their behavior. And we know that opportunities to get a job, especially one with a livable wage, to attend college, and even to find housing are limited, since many establishments will not even consider an applicant if they have a past criminal history. Since 90% of incarcerated youth return home before their 25th birthday, these young people often feel their hopes for a future are dashed before they have a chance to show their potential. It is imperative that they are afforded the opportunity to grow into productive, law-abiding citizens. Both education and workforce development are fundamental in preparing youth to successfully enter the labor market and thus reduce the likelihood of recidivism. With the right resources and opportunities, we can change the course of a young person’s life in South Carolina.
Research on justice-involved youth shows that lack of employment is one of the biggest predictors of justice system involvement and unsuccessful re-entry. Access to employment and job training opportunities can help youth avoid a lifetime of negative justice-related consequences.
To address statewide workforce challenges, SCDJJ seeks strategic partnerships to expand training in transferable skills that will benefit the economy of South Carolina. The long-term care facility called the Broad River Road Complex (BRRC) is an expansive, 200 acre, high security campus in Columbia, SC where SCDJJ aims to reclaim juveniles in the least restrictive environment. The average length of stay is between four(4) and thirteen(13) months. In addition to earning a High School Diploma or a GED, many committed youth seek gainful employment during their time at BRRC. The Agency currently offers a Young Craftsman Program, Upholstery Program, Welding class and several off-campus employment opportunities, but we know that expanded on-campus resources are needed for our youth to be “career-ready” with skills to meet the high demands of industry in South Carolina. SCDJJ’s campuses in Columbia and across the state of South Carolina offer unique opportunities for manufacturers. We have land, space and an eager workforce that will embrace any opportunity afforded to them.
These young people want the same thing we all want: the ability to have a good job and make enough money to support ourselves and our families.
Career Readiness Center
The first step in DJJ's evolution of education and workforce development programming came in October 2013 when the Agency opened its innovative Job Readiness Training Center (JRTC) - now known as the Career Readiness Center (CRC) - in Columbia, SC.
The mission of the Career Readiness Center is three-fold:
- Equip justice-involved youth with soft skills and job readiness skills required to get a job;
- Expose them to difference occupations, careers and education opportunities;
- and most importantly Assist them in maintaining employment as well as their pursuit of higher education and a career path.
The CRC is a multi-use facility that houses classroom and meeting space designed to provide amenities that enhance the learning experience. The facility is equipped with video conferencing, video projection, smart-board technology, a computer learning lab and conference room for meetings and other training.
While class size at the CRC facility is limited to about 16 youth, additional training is offered to students from up to six remote locations around the state at one time through video conference link. The number of attendees at those locations is dictated by the available seating space. DJJ offices in every county and private providers’ facilities where juveniles are placed have video conferencing abilities and their participants will be included. A major goal of the CRC is to provide training to as many youth as possible regardless of where they are physically located in South Carolina.
- Financial Literacy
- Soft Skills Training
- Workforce Credentials
- Skills & Interest Assessment
- Youth Empowerment Centers
- Job Search Sites
- Multi-Agency Partnerships