About the PACTT Program

​Why PACTT Exists Today...

The Pennsylvania Academic, Career and Technical Training (PACTT) Alliance originated in 2008 as a response measure to shortcomings evidenced within the Commonwealth’s system of residential and non-residential service providers of delinquent youth. Information gathered from Pennsylvania’s two largest urban centers (Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties) indicated that young people placed in juvenile justice programming facilities were failing to achieve acceptable results in three critical areas: 

1) High school graduation; 

2) Transition to post-secondary schools or training programs, and;

3) The ability to obtain employment.  

Perhaps the most alarming statistic was the fact that nearly 80% of youth returning to Philadelphia County from placement failed to graduate high school.  Essentially, the system designed to help offenders, was somehow disadvantaging them further in ways that were not immediately recognizable.

Armed only with a commitment to address these deficiencies, the founding PACTT staff successfully identified a group of partners that were willing to assist the initial project with financial support.  Those partners included:

  • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency
  • The Stoneleigh Foundation
  • The Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers

In order to identify potential solutions to the problems recognized, PACTT staff understood the need for input from a broad spectrum of Pennsylvania sponsors.  They solicited input from well-established, widely acknowledged groups and individuals dedicated to improving academics, career technology and employment opportunities for youth across the Commonwealth.  This core group assisted with the development of foundational activities and expectations that would ultimately evolve into the PACTT standards currently required for affiliation.  Those participants included members from:

  • The Philadelphia Youth Network 
  • The Three Rivers Youth Council
  • Lehigh County Career & Technical Training Center
  • The Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers
  • Juvenile Law Center of Pennsylvania

To establish a foundation for the project, six overarching goals were developed.

  1. Enhance academic programming.
  2. Improve coordination between programs and school districts.
  3. Promote practices aimed at accelerating remediation, credit recovery and transfer.
  4. Develop career and technical training programs that lead to industry-recognized certifications and certificates.
  5. Further developing job readiness and employability skills.
  6. Create employment opportunities for youth who have become involved in the juvenile justice system. 
Additionally, the workgroup effort also helped to develop key resources used to implement the established goals.  Perhaps the most notable of those resources is the Employability Soft Skills Manual (ESSM) which is a framework document that identifies 27 key competencies within five general domain areas recognized as essential in preparation for successful employment. In addition, the development team collectively established the commitments necessary for PACTT affiliation.

The project commenced in very modest fashion with nine affiliates specifically recommended by the PA Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers.  Over the next five years, PACTT expanded from those nine original affiliates to a total of 23 participating agencies.

The Transition to the PA Department of Human Services...

In 2013 the project exhausted the limits of its funding source and although there clearly remained significant need for the initiative, the financial uncertainty was of primary concern.  This reality prompted the founding PACTT staff and representatives from the Juvenile Law Center to approach executive level decision makers from both DHS and the Juvenile Court Judge’s Commission to explore sustainable funding options for the project.

Utilizing Commonwealth monies made available from the closing of Pennsylvania’s largest secure residential treatment center, PACTT found its permanent home within the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS).  The Secretary of DHS identified the adoption of PACTT as not only a measure of assurance for the long-term viability of the initiative, but also an important transition within BJJS from quasi-competitor to a true support service provider.​​​

PACTT partners with an Executive Steering Committee represented​ by the following organizations:

  • Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers
  • Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Labor & Industry
  • Juvenile Court Judges' Commission
  • Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency
  • Department of Human Services