Increase access to education for people in the juvenile and criminal justice systems

Updated June 15, 2021

Education and workforce development services are critical to securing meaningful employment and supporting long-term success, particularly for people in the juvenile and criminal justice systemsThe American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides an opportunity for states and local communities to leverage over $160 billion in education-specific funding to expand the availability and quality of postsecondary and career technical education and increase financial assistance for people in the justice system.

Funding Breakdown 


Name Total Amount Description Administering Agencies Eligible Entities  Distribution Mechanisms  End Date 
Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund   $39.5 billion  Support student tuition expenses, defray institutional expenses, and expand financial aid grants to students.  Department of Education  Institutions of higher education and students  Formula allocation  September 30, 2023 
Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund   $122.7 billion  Help safely reopen schools; address learning losses due to the pandemic, particularly for vulnerable populations; and address the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students.

  • $800 million to identify and provide wraparound services and assistance for children and youth experiencing homelessness to attend school and school activities
Department of Education  State and local educational agencies  Formula allocation, subgrants, and contracts  September 30, 2023 

The ARP provides for an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Treasury guidance specifically allows these funds to be used for a wide range of educational investments, including addressing educational disparities and providing services to enhance educational supports, such as evidence-based practices to support social, emotional, and mental health needs and assisting high-poverty school districts. State, local, and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.

Key Takeaways

1. Broaden job training pathways: Communities can strengthen and expand Career Technical Education (CTE) and job training pathways for youth and adults in the justice system, including work-based learning and improved credentialing programs that are aligned to local economic needs. Providing highquality workforce development services helps position people in the justice system to meet employers’ expectations and lays the groundwork for long-term success. 

2. Expand higher education access and financial aid: ARP funding can be used to incentivize and scale best practices for higher education institutions—particularly community colleges—to recruit, enroll, and support people in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This includes broadening access to college credit and dual enrollment programs and expanding adult-education programming for people without high school diplomas. At the same time, communities should explore opportunities to expand financial aid and scholarships for non-traditional students, including people in the justice system.

3. Increase wraparound educational support services: Communities can use ARP resources to provide meaningful wraparound supports, such as tutoring and counseling, that are crucial to address potential barriers to postsecondary and CTE program completion.

Other Resources 

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About the Author

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Nina Salomon
Program Director, Corrections and Reentry
Nina Salomon oversees the Improving Outcomes for Youth Statewide Juvenile Justice Initiative, supporting states to develop, adopt, and implement legislative reforms. Nina was a lead author of the School Discipline Consensus Report, and leads the organization's efforts to improve educational outcomes
for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Previously, she was a policy advisor at EducationCounsel LLC, a national policy and legal consulting firm, where she provided assistance to clients at state education agencies, school districts, and national organizations to advance policy change. As an investment associate at The Chicago Public Education Fund, Nina conducted due diligence on prospective investments and managed projects to ensure they achieved performance benchmarks. She also conducted research and wrote policy briefs and funding guides to support charter schools and youth development programs and worked in government relations for a national youth development organization. Nina earned a BA in political science from The George Washington University and an MSEd in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
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