1)Situation/Objectives: Youth at the Juvenile Justice Detention Center often come from impoverished circumstances and a number of them struggle to pass their GED in order to become employable. In addition, many lack proper guidance with establishing legitimate banking/financial management practices for their life. So they turn to crime as a way to make ends meet. (Dr. K. Coggins, Lead Teacher, Pasco Juvenile Detention Center.) 2) Educational Methods: To reach this audience, the G.O.L.D. (Getting Organized for Life’s Demands) Program was developed. This three-week program provides financial life skills to these youth during their 21 days in the Juvenile Justice facility. G.O.L.D. covers topics of budgeting, prioritizing needs versus wants, tracking expenses, and becoming self-sufficient. The program also covers the importance of emergency funds, long term saving strategies, and how to read salary statements (gross income vs. net income, taxes, etc.). Lastly, the program drives home the importance of educational levels as a predictor of financial success and the importance of getting at least a high school diploma. 3) Results: Since 2014, knowledge gain through pre and post testing has been 47%; 63% want to begin a savings program when they are released, and 81% have stated they feel better about their ability to “make ends meet” when they become independent (N=693). Although not measurable, many of the youth want to speak with their parent/guardian about “mainstream” bank accounts or becoming “bankable.” Several youth and parents have engaged in vocational rehabilitation services. A number have started to attend community college (J. Smialek, M.A., M.Ed., LMHC), and probation officers have seen a “change in the way some of our kids are handling money.” R.C., S.A., 2014.
4) Conclusions. Life Skills and financial planning for students falling into nontraditional graduation scenarios are crucial. This program offers our students a valuable alternative.