Although estimates vary, research shows that large numbers of youth in justice settings have learning or related disabilities, making them eligible for special education services. Youth with special education needs, when compared with their peers without disabilities, experience educational, social, and behavioral challenges. These challenges can be even more pronounced for youth involved with the justice system. Additionally, justice facilities and their schools often face challenges in fully meeting the academic, behavioral, and related service needs of these young people.
This NDTAC N&D InFocus program explores the unique needs of youth with learning and related disabilities and the ways in which justice facilities and schools support the success of these youth. The program focuses on the academic and instructional approaches that facilities are taking and the behavioral and social-emotional supports that they are using.
Dear Colleague Letter on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities [PDF]
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (2014)
Building Adaptive Expertise and Practice-Based Evidence: Applying the Implementation Stages Framework to Special Education Teacher Preparation
Mason Williams, L., Frederick, J. R., & Mulcahy, C. A. (2014). Teacher Education and Special Education, 1–14
A Multi-State Study Examining the Impact of Explicit Reading Instruction with Incarcerated Students (Free Registration Required)
Houchins, D. E., Jolivette, K., Krezmien, M. P., & Baltodano, H. M. (2008). The Journal of Correctional Education, 59(1), 65–85.
Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Community Corrections - Principles of Effective Intervention [PDF]
National Institute of Corrections (2004)
Moving to Evidence-Based Strategies: Getting the Best Bang for the Buck [PDF]
Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Corrections (2008)
- Zebulon Pike Youth Services Center Program Brochure [PDF]
Meet Our Guests
Dr. David Houchins is a Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders at Georgia State University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida and was previously an assistant professor at Louisiana State University and a secondary teacher for students with mild disabilities in Palm Beach County, FL. Dr. Houchins’ areas of interest include secondary students with mild disabilities, alternative schools, academic strategies and transition services for at-risk secondary youth with and without mild disabilities. He has been the principal investigator on more than $6 million in grant funding. He has numerous publications including those on literacy instruction, professional development and high quality research in juvenile justice. He is currently the President of the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Research He has served as a national expert and trainer for state, national and international entities, including Turkey and Egypt.
Dr. Candace Mulcahy is an associate professor of special education at Binghamton University (SUNY). Her research interests include education policies that apply to youth in corrections, provision of appropriate education and special education services to marginalized youth, and effective reading and mathematics instruction for youth with disabilities in public schools and for youth in corrections. She has conducted a number of investigations of the status of academic performance and educational histories among youth in corrections and self-regulated academic interventions among at-risk secondary students in a variety of settings. With a team of researchers at the University of Maryland, Arizona State University, and Georgia State University, Dr. Mulcahy investigated the effects of a systematic reading intervention on the reading performance of youth in a long-term secure care facility. Dr. Mulcahy assisted in developing and implementing an education intake process for youth entering secure care facilities in the State of Maryland. She has visited numerous education programs in juvenile and adult corrections facilities and has consulted with state and local agencies on the provision of appropriate education services to at-risk and incarcerated youth.
Diane Skufca is the Director of Facility Support with the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections. Diane has over 15 years of experience developing, managing and administering residential as well as non-residential programs for juvenile offenders and youth under the custody of local child welfare agencies in three different states. She has worked for the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections for the last eleven years. Diane initiated her career as a line staff working with child welfare and youth probation clients in residential treatment. She possesses a Master's Degree in the Management of Human Services.
Dan Beilfuss has been the Director of Zebulon Pike Youth Services since 2008 and has worked in Youth Corrections since 1993. In his free time, he enjoys the Colorado outdoors and spending time with his family.
Allison Hanson is the principal of the Zebulon Pike Youth Services Center School. She has been in this position for one year. Previously, she served as a special education coordinator for a local school district, as well as a teacher at a residential treatment facility. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and two golden retrievers enjoying the mountains of Colorado.