Staff from the Ventura County Library, Ventura County Probation Agency, and the Ventura County Office of Education met in summer 2018 and discussed the identified need for literacy tutoring for the youth in the Ventura County Juvenile Detention facility. Many youths’ reading ability is far below levels commensurate with their age and staff determined that a three-way partnership between the Ventura County Library, the Ventura County Probation Agency, and the Ventura County Office of Education (“Operation READ!”) will be beneficial in getting the youth the reading instruction they need.
Through this literacy program, Library staff will assist Juvenile Facility staff in providing reading materials that will interest the youth and be appropriate, both in content and reading level. The reading instruction will be done by trained and thoroughly vetted volunteer Reading Coaches and the Library will train the volunteer coaches through the Library’s READ Literacy Program. The Library will also provide materials to be used with the reading curriculum, and Library staff will work with instructors at Providence School to identify students in need of literacy tutoring. The Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE) operates the Providence School which is located in the Juvenile Facility attended by Probation youth.
The objective of the program is to help the youth in the Juvenile Facility to improve their reading skills in order to succeed when they are released. Without basic reading skills, finding work and pursuing education will be difficult, if not impossible. Helping the Juvenile Facility youth to improve their reading skills can contribute to keeping some of them out of the criminal justice system in the future. Reading levels will be assessed as students move through the program to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. While adhering to strict confidentiality protocol, Probation staff will also provide any information available regarding impacts of the program on the youth participating in the program and after they leave the Juvenile Facility.
In September 2018, the Foundation committed $15,000 to the Operation READ. These funds will support an onsite program coordinator/tutor for up to one year, and various educational materials for the program. The Foundation is working hard to raise funds on an ongoing basis to keep this important program viable and active.