The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) operates eight community facilities for young adults across Washington State. Community facilities are less restrictive options where youth can serve the remainder of their sentence in a therapeutic setting. One of the many benefits of community facilities is the opportunity for youth to gain employment in the community and earn a living wage.
When a young person gains employment, DCYF counselors work with that youth to develop a budget and financial goals and establish a savings account. If a resident owes restitution or court fines, the counselor will also work with them to develop a financial obligations payment plan where a portion of their earnings goes toward paying that off. So far this year, youth in our community facilities have paid back nearly $19,000 in restitution from their employment earnings. Last year, that figure was nearly double without the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After restitution payments, any remaining wages can go into their savings accounts to be used when they reenter the community for things like independent living, safe and stable housing, utilities, reliable transportation or essential household items. Being able to earn a living while in residence not only teaches core job and money management skills, but it also promotes self-sufficiency and independence for young people for successful transitions back into the community.