By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer

Dozens of youth offenders at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (NACYCF) took the first step toward re-entry by attending a job fair.

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Youth were able to check out potential employment opportunities and listen to speakers during a recent resource fair.

The event at the Stockton facility allowed the youth offenders to learn about employment possibilities when they move back to their communities.

“This event is important to educate, empower, and inform the youth about the resources that have existed for many years in their communities as well as to have them speak to these providers themselves, prior to being discharged, so they they can establish a relationship with these organizations and companies willing to help,” said DaiNette Bowens, NACYCF Re-entry Coordinator.

She said having a strong re-entry program is vital to the success of the youth to ensure  every young offender who leaves the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)  has a plan to connect them to viable resources and opportunities in the community and help them to maintain a lower risk to re-offend and pursue positive life goals.

“Ms. Bowens, if I knew all these resources existed in my community before I got locked up, I don’t think I would be here since there is help out there, and I can’t believe how many programs are out there,” said Nick, a youth offender.

Youth learn about options available to them after release.

Youth learn about options available to them after release.

“This is my third time attending this event,” said Victor, another offender. “There are a lot of resources here. I’ve come a long way. These people really do want to help us out.”

A number of vendors were available to discuss their organizations and explain what they can offer to potential employees.

Among those in attendance were Stockton Employment Development Department, the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, Fresno Local Conservation Corps, Rites of Passage (Oakland), San Joaquin WorkNet, Civic Corps of Oakland, and the California Human Development Farm Workers Youth Program.

Edgar, also an offender, said he has obtained his forklift certification, and was using the various agencies represented to hopefully line up a job in a warehouse when he’s released.

“I’ve gained confidence through job skills learned here,” Edgar said. “Now I just need to take advantage of the services available today to line up a job down the road.”

The youth also had the opportunity to sign up for Resolution Workshops, such as the Immigration Clinic Workshop and Foster Care Workshop.

The Division of Juvenile Justice provides education and treatment to California’s youthful offenders up to the age of 25 who have the most serious criminal backgrounds and most intense treatment needs.

Most juvenile offenders today are committed to county facilities in their home community where they can be closer to their families and local social services that are vital to rehabilitation, according to officials.

The military also had a presence at the resource fair.

The military also had a presence at the resource fair.