The Texas Juvenile Justice Department believes that, through volunteers, the community has the ability to enhance lives of youth by providing meaningful activities and resources that promote pro-social, educational, emotional and spiritual growth, and healthy family relationships; thus, expanding services provided by staff. The Mission of the TJJD Volunteer Services Program is to maximize community resources and utilize volunteers to provide opportunities that enable youth to become responsible and productive citizens. Each volunteer services program is administered by a qualified Community Relations Coordinator. The TJJD Volunteer Services Program produced the following results during fiscal year 2015:
- 1,299 community volunteers enrolled in TJJD programs
- 76,618 hours of service contributed by volunteers
- $64,118 in cash donations and fundraising revenue generated by the local community resource councils affiliated with TJJD
- 30,855 community service hours performed by TJJD youth on parole, in halfway houses, and institutions
- 3,422 community citizens educated through facility tours, volunteer training sessions, and public awareness and prevention speaking engagements
- $1,735,378 cash and in-kind contributions benefitting TJJD youth
TJJD mentors make a significant impact on the rehabilitation of our youth. The goal of mentoring is to develop a trusting, supportive relationship between a mature adult and a carefully matched youth in which the youth is encouraged to reach his/her potential, discover his/her strengths and develop self-confidence. Our research confirms mentoring really does make a difference in reducing recidivism and increasing educational accomplishments. These improvements are heightened when mentoring matches are sustained for at least six months, and faith-based mentoring has been found to be the most successful type of mentoring.
Mentors are carefully screened and selected, and are expected to make a six-month minimum commitment and spend at least 4 hours each month visiting with their mentee. Mentoring visits take place usually during the evening and on the weekend. Matches are carefully made and based upon gender, age, language requirements, availability, needs and strengths, shared interests, life experiences, and preferences of mentor and mentee.
The TJJD mentor is expected to focus on four primary tasks:
- Establish a positive personal relationship,
- Develop life skills and goals,
- Assist youth in obtaining additional resources and
- Increase the youth’s ability to interact with other social and cultural groups.
Highlights of the 2015 Mentoring Impact Analysis
21% of youth released in 2014 with sustained mentoring for six months or longer were reading at grade level upon release, compared to 14% of non-mentored youth.
63% of youth released in FY 2014 with sustained mentoring of six months or more achieved their high school diploma or GED within 90 days of release, compared to 45% of youth who were not mentored.
47% of youth released during fiscal year 2014 who were never mentored were rearrested within 1 year of release from a secure facility, compared to 29% of youth who had sustained mentoring services for six months or more.
There was improvement between the 1-year reincarceration rate for a violent offense, released during fiscal year 2014, who never received mentoring services (12%) and youth who had sustained mentoring services for six months or more. (6%).
The 3-year reincarceration rate of youth released during fiscal year 2012, who were never mentored, was 37%; and youth who had sustained mentoring services for six months or more was 28%.
Thirteen local Community Resource Councils support the volunteer services programs at each TJJD facility. Council members include representatives of local civic, service and religious organizations and businesses who serve because of their concern for youth. These groups of volunteers provide community assistance and resources, and help inform their local communities of the TJJD facilities' goals, accomplishments, needs and challenges.
These councils are registered non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organizations dedicated to the benefit of the TJJD youth. Donations made to these Councils are tax-deductible. During fiscal year 2015, Community Resource Councils affiliated with TJJD assisted 617 families through a variety of activities and gave $7,256 in travel funds and other types of financial support to families.
The councils also provided youth with clothing for job interviews and community re-entry, financial assistance for attending college and school supplies, employment training, and social security and identification cards, incentives for academic achievement and behavioral progress, among other resources.
Tutors provided additional assistance to TJJD youth who are working on earning their high school diplomas and/or GEDs. Generally, our youth are several years behind their peers academically, and need extra help to catch up to their grade level in reading and math. Tutors work with individual youth in our secure facility classrooms and halfway houses. No prior special training or experience is required, and tutors are provided with materials and guidance as they work with youth.
TJJD facilities often rely upon the involvement of community volunteers to provide religious training, spiritual development, and pastoral counseling services to youth. Hundreds of faithful volunteers visit our secure facilities and halfway houses each week to lead religious activities and worship services, as requested by our youth. Volunteers receive guidance and training from the facility Chaplains.
If you or your religious organization is interested in providing such activities for TJJD youth, please refer to the Volunteer Contact List.
In addition to these primary roles, volunteers may be involved in unique programs developed by the local TJJD facility. These volunteer roles include college interns, recreation assistants, music/art teachers, guest speakers, gardening instructors, and clerical workers to name a few.
The Community Relations Coordinator at each TJJD facility is responsible for screening prospective volunteers and carefully matching selected individuals to a suitable assignment. A volunteer assignment is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of :