NEW BERN — A new pilot program serving Pitt, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties will focus on assisting young adults to successfully return to the community after involvement with the juvenile justice system. 

The Juvenile Reentry Employment Program will offer vocational training and employment opportunities through Craven Community College’s Volt Center, in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This enrollment will be coupled with housing and transportation assistance; short-term financial assistance; intensive case management and supervision; and engagement from local reentry councils and service providers in the area. 

The JREP program is made possible through a $746,000 grant provided by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which will carry the pilot phase through September 2026.

“JREP has the potential to be a game changer for juvenile reentry in the state of North Carolina,” said DJJDP Director of Reentry Services Nicole Sullivan. “This innovative approach offers not only workforce development training and ready-made job placement, but also provides wraparound services to ensure that the basic needs of these young adults are met, allowing them to focus on earning trade certification as they develop self-sufficiency.” 

During their time at the Volt Center, program participants will be able to earn professional credentials through 15 classes that align with their employment interests, ranging from construction and clean energy to hospitality management. 

“Job training for individuals who have been justice-involved gives them marketable trades and skills that can help them earn a living wage,” said Volt Center Director of Trades Programs Jeff Schulze. “We know that education is the key to reducing recidivism and the Volt Center is the ideal location for that training. Our wide range of trades programs, like carpentry, HVAC, welding, diesel technology and more, provides multiple opportunities for our students to find their passion and a skill that lasts a lifetime.”

The Juvenile Reentry Employment Program has its genesis in the 2019 “Raise the Age” law, which raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina from 16 to 18. As more youth emerge from youth development centers on the precipice of adulthood, DJJDP has sought to build programming that will better equip these young people with the real-world skills necessary to be self-sufficient. 

“The JREP program will take this a step further, ensuring that needs such as housing and transportation are factored into the reentry equation,” Sullivan said. “Our hope is that by focusing on the whole person and their day-to-day needs, we can help better prepare these young adults for success.” 

Under JREP, an intensive case manager will begin working with participants while they are housed in a youth development center and follow them for several months post-confinement. This case manager will help the youth plan for their needs upon release and coordinate with both the Volt Center and local reentry councils to help foster their return to the community. 

“Emerging adults returning from confinement can often face immense challenges, including finding safe and secure housing, and reliable transportation” Sullivan said. “By offering comprehensive case management, this program will allow participants to return to the community with a clear plan in place to move their lives forward. Partnering with local reentry councils, whose members understand and empathize with these struggles, will be an opportunity to build positive relationships that steer these youth away from recidivism.”

About DJJDP

The North Carolina Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is committed to the reduction and prevention of juvenile delinquency by effectively intervening, educating and treating youth in order to strengthen families and increase public safety. It aims to meet this mission through its vision of a seamless, equitable, comprehensive juvenile justice system that fully invests in the success of its employees and provides timely, age-appropriate services to youth and their families in need, in the most appropriate settings.

About the Volt Center

The Volt Center, located near downtown New Bern, is Craven Community College’s workforce development training center that offers hands-on learning in various trades. Built in 1947, the 7,500-square-foot facility was originally used as an electric plant before undergoing major transformation. The 4.6-acre site now houses several training programs, such as carpentry, HVAC, electrical, forklift, hospitality, and diesel mechanics, and is constantly evolving to meet the latest needs in the community. The Volt Center is also home to the college’s Small Business Center, which offers free consultation and education to small business owners in the community. 

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