Addressing the Critical Needs of Youth Offenders: Evaluating the Impacts of Grant-Funded Programs

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Finding ways to better serve young people involved with the criminal justice system is a critical social need. In recent decades, the number of youth arrests and rate of incarceration have increased substantially, despite an overall decrease in juvenile crime. More than 1.6 million youth younger than 18 were arrested in 2010. These youth face extensive challenges reconnecting with their communities and finding pathways to success. There are few rigorous studies and no definitive evidence of what works in programs targeted to young people with justice involvement. This study examines a new program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that combines promising workforce strategies (career pathways) with promising juvenile justice strategies (expungement and diversion services).

The Evaluation of Grants Serving Young Offenders is a comprehensive evaluation of DOL's Face Forward grants. The Face Forward program model is based on the idea that youth involved with the justice system deserve the opportunity to shed the stigma associated with past transgressions and develop into successful, productive, and law-abiding adults. Mathematica is partnering with Social Policy Research Associates to design a rigorous impact and implementation study of the Face Forward 3 grants.

Key Research Questions

How do the new generation of DOL-funded grant projects serving young adult offenders:

  • Improve educational outcomes for youth?
  • Improve labor market outcomes for youth?
  • Reduce recidivism rates or future criminal justice involvement?