Incarcerated Youths to be Trained for Construction Work

By City News Service

Education and probation officials in Lancaster cut the ribbon yesterday on what’s billed as the county’s biggest vocational training program for youths in the juvenile court system.

Located at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center in Lancaster, “BuildingSkills: Construction Careers for the 21st Century” prepares students for 20 construction-related trades, Los Angeles County Office of Education officials said.

“Enhancing vocational education opportunities is one of the most critical things we can do to help set incarcerated students on a positive course in school and in life,” said Arturo Delgado, LACOE superintendent. “In a time when educational programs are being slashed to the bone, it is truly

uplifting to be able to provide this opportunity to our county’s most vulnerable and at-risk youth.”

LACOE is partnering with the Probation Department to run 13 fully accredited high schools in juvenile halls and camps, serve about 2,300 incarcerated students daily, officials said.

Delgado joined Jerry Powers, the chief probation officer, at the ceremony to launch the $150,000 program at LACOE’s Christa McAuliffe School, which serves the 250 youths held at Challenger.

“We want the young people under our supervision to leave the juvenile justice system with job-ready skills,” Powers said. “The fact is, unemployment and a lack of education are major risk factors for recidivism.”

Students in the program may earn career-technical education credits for high school and a general construction industry certificate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which gives them a boost in being hired at the apprentice level.

LACOE plans to implement BuildingSkills at three additional juvenile probation camps by the end of June. They are Miller in Malibu, Scott-Scudder in Saugus and Mendenhall in Lake Hughes.

Once fully operational, the program is expected to serve about 200 young offenders annually, officials said.

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March 29, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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