Field Practica Information for Youth Justice and Advocacy Programs

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The Youth Justice and Advocacy program was first offered to students at Wheelock College in September 2004. The program can be taken as either a Professional Concentration or as a Minor.

The program offers a unique approach. Although the field of youth justice has traditionally been viewed as a sub-category of criminal justice, we are not a criminal justice program.  An examination of other programs around the country found none that focused exclusively on juvenile justice. Furthermore, the program is housed in a college that has the mission of "improving life for children and families," and includes a significant focus on youth advocacy, which reflects a departure from traditional criminal justice programs. In addition, this program takes a developmental, contextual, and strengths based approach to the topics of juvenile justice, delinquency, and youth advocacy, and also emphasizes human rights, social justice, and the positive development of all youth.

Practicum Overview

Students complete 38 credits, which includes didactic courses, community-based field experiences, and the 200-hour practicum at a juvenile justice related site. During the practicum, students take the seminar course, which directly addresses the ongoing practicum experience. The practicum may include law enforcement/police, schools, faith based prevention programs, state-run residential treatment centers, and community based re-integration programs, courts, youth services, government agencies, and policy-oriented programs. Following the practicum, students integrate the didactic and practical experiences within an Integrative Seminar course. 

Outcomes of the practicum:

  • To prepare students to appreciate the many complexities of the juvenile justice and youth advocacy field
  • To prepare students to think developmentally and contextually about how best to work respectfully with children, families, and systems toward outcomes that promote healthy youth development as well as community safety
  • To prepare students to see a youth's liaison with the youth justice system as an opportunity for intervention, not just adjudication; and as an opportunity for learning, not just punishment
  • To prepare students who can think for themselves and reflect on their own knowledge

Expectations for Practicum Students

  1. Study the Practicum materials and be familiar with all policies and procedures.
  2. Attend the practicum site, at least two days per week for a minimum of 16 hours, typically on Monday and Wednesday, unless another schedule has been agreed upon between the student, Site Supervisor, and Faculty Field Liaison.
  3. Notify the Site Supervisor if you are unable to be at the agency on any scheduled day. In case of absence from field work, arrangements must be made with the Site Supervisor to make up the missed time.
  4. Meet with the Site Supervisor for a minimum of one-hour weekly supervision.
  5. Use the Time Sheet form to keep track of the number of hours in the field. Time sheets should be signed by the Site Supervisor and should be turned in monthly to the Faculty Field Liaison in JJA 402.
  6. Participate in at least one on-site conference with both the Site Supervisor and the Faculty Field Liaison.
  7. Collaborate with the Site Supervisor to prepare the practicum Learning Contract.
  8. Discuss any difficulties regarding the field placement experience first with the Site Supervisor, and, if necessary, with the Faculty Field Liaison.
  9. Follow the protocol described in the JJYA Practicum Handbook when ethical concerns arise in the practicum site; in addition, contact the Faculty Field Liaison.
  10. Consult with the Site Supervisor prior to any use of case material in the classroom.
  11. Complete the end-semester evaluation of the practicum experience.
  12. Complete a minimum of 200 hours in the field over the course of the semester. Students make a commitment to the field practicum site for a full academic semester, beginning in early September through the end of classes in December. Early fulfillment of the required hours does not exempt a student from this commitment.

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