Graduation Ceremonies For Youth In Juvenile Detention

Published on June 28, 2023, 6:58 pm
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With the 2022-2023 academic year having ended, the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) hosted graduation ceremonies for youth in juvenile detention. ACS has been keenly focused on improving educational outcomes for youth in detention and, most recently, created new dedicated ‘school liaisons’ at each secure facility, who help encourage students to attend school and complete their coursework. This year, 7 students in juvenile detention participated in a middle school graduation ceremony, 12 students participated in a high school graduation ceremony and 14 students participated in a graduation ceremony for completing their GED.

“As our mayor often reminds us, when we invest in youth, including young people in the juvenile justice system, they can do anything, even lead the greatest city in the world,” said ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser. “By improving educational outcomes for youth in juvenile detention, we are working to instill hope and belief in themselves and provide them with the skills they need to become independent and successful adults. I want to congratulate the students graduating this year, and thank all those who have encouraged, coached and mentored these students to get them where they are today.”

“Education is a key component of Mayor Adams’s investment in young people – and in public safety. I commend ACS and Commissioner Dannhauser’s implementation of Mayor Adams’ vision through enhancements that will improve the educational outcomes of youth in juvenile detention.  Congratulations to the graduating students, who are making an investment in their own futures and the futures of their respective communities- I wish them continued success on their educational journeys,” said Deanna Logan, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

“Aligned with the four pillars for improving and building trust for our families that Chancellor Banks has provided, we are consistently reimagining our programming,  enhancing successful systems and keeping student success at the forefront of our work while engaging and supporting families as partners in the work. These students are a true testament that a moment in time doesn’t define a child’s destiny. Our graduation ceremonies not only highlight the hard work of our students and staff but also celebrates this powerful moment that can change their destination in the future. We work with our multiple partners to find the strengths and weaknesses of each student so we can develop a system of supports while they are at Passages Academy. Students are supported in developing a transition plan for returning to their community and in connecting to community resources upon, we provide our students with access to a wide range of academic classes and students are able to earn high school credits and take Regents exams at Passages to ensure minimal disruption to education,” said Superintendent Glenda Esperance (District 79).

“Perseverance, dedication and commitment got all our young people to graduation and I am very proud of them. We focused on waking them up every day, getting them to school on time and keeping them in school, focused and on track,” said School Tour Commander Sydorowitz.

ACS provides secure and non-secure detention services for young people whose cases are pending in Family or Criminal Courts. ACS operates Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center, located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and Horizon Juvenile Detention Center, located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Secure detention ensures that the young person appears in court on time while keeping the young person and the community safe. The court decides whether youth should be detained while their court cases are being resolved.

Youth in secure detention attend school via DOE’s Passages Academy (District 79). Passages Academy supports middle school instruction, high school instruction, and high school equivalency instruction. Passages Academy School Counselors and Social Workers provide guidance counseling, special education services, and transition support when youth return to the community. Youth have access to afterschool programming through the Division of Youth and Community Development, can participate in NYC Department of Education funded internships, can engage with college access programming and workforce development through various community-based partnerships.

Over the past year, ACS has made several enhancements to help improve educational outcomes for youth in detention:

  • Dedicated School-Based Team: For the 2022-2023 school year, ACS expanded staffing capacity in support of the students’ school day by creating new dedicated “school liaisons” at each secure facility and assigning dedicated Tour Commanders to focus on education. This newly created school-based team is responsible for encouraging young people to attend school, which has significantly improved engagement and attendance across both facilities.
  • Additional Tutoring: In addition to Passages Academy, students in juvenile detention receive support from tutors. For instance, Success4Life provides on-site, small group and one-on-one tutoring to youth, including those who are preparing for the high school equivalency exam, enrolled in college access courses, or who need individualized attention to improve literacy.  Success4Life tutors collaborate closely with Passages Academy administrators and educators to identify youth and areas of need. Success4Life tutors work with youth during the school day and provide additional support on the residential halls during out-of-schooltime hours.
  • College Credits: ACS is continually expanding relationships with college partners and college access organizations that support youth in achieving their educational goals.  ACS is currently partnering with several community colleges within the CUNY network including Bronx Community College, Kingsborough Community College, Hunter College and private institutions including Manhattan College, to offer college exploration and credit-bearing options for youth in detention. This semester, 17 students in detention received three college credits in Sociology through the College Now program at Hunter College. The course was led by Calvin John Smiley, Ph.D.
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