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Pre-Apprenticeship Program Creates Options for JCCS Students

Pre-Apprenticeship Program Creates Options for JCCS Students

A student's life can be forever changed for the better if they have a job or training program lined up after they graduate or are released from the custody of probation.

The College and Career Readiness (CCR) team at SDCOE works with districts and schools across the county to prepare students for college and careers. Recently, Ernesto Rivera, a project specialist on the team, focused his efforts on developing a pre-apprenticeship program for students at Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS). Currently, students from SOAR Academy at the Youth Transition Campus (YTC) are participating in the program with the goal of expanding to additional JCCS sites in the future.

“We’re very excited about the program because it helps us achieve our goal of helping youth in custody transition back into society,” said Tracy Thompson, executive director of JCCS.

Justin Littrell, who teaches at the YTC, said the students are excited about the opportunity, which will help open doors as they enter the workforce or look for new jobs.

While pre-apprenticeship programs are common in trades such as plumbing, building, and construction, Rivera recognized that culinary arts was already an existing and popular pathway at multiple JCCS campuses and explored how that might work as a pre-apprenticeship program.

“JCCS had an informal partnership with Kitchens for Good, a local nonprofit that offers apprenticeships to individuals facing barriers to employment, including justice-involved youth,” Rivera explained. “So, the idea was to align that partnership with the current program and give it a little more structure. And, do that by turning our culinary arts program into a pre-apprenticeship for Kitchens for Good.”

To make this program a reality, Rivera worked for nearly a year to prepare and submit documents to the state’s Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) and work with DAS and Kitchens for Good to get the culinary arts curriculum approved. The application was approved in July 2022 and the program was given official state certification. It was the first pre-apprenticeship program in culinary arts at the high school level in San Diego County.

Kitchens for Good serves as the apprenticeship advisor and helps SDCOE keep the curriculum current. The formal partnership allows students in the program who want to continue with a career in culinary hospitality to receive priority consideration to work for Kitchens for Good once they graduate or leave custody.

“We provide referrals for immediate consideration and support students with additional services,” Rivera said. Grant funding also helps provide students with transportation, clothing, equipment, or interview preparation.

To receive their certificate of completion from DAS, students must complete 80 hours of instruction in culinary arts. The idea is to have seniors who are already enrolled in the culinary arts program complete these hours during the fall semester, so they have the opportunity upon graduation or release to move directly into an apprenticeship with Kitchens for Good or pursue another hospitality opportunity.

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SDCOE is hosting a series of community forums starting in January to get input from parents, students, and other educational partners that will help guide the development of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for its Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) and its Special Education school, Friendship.

San Pasqual Academy student M'niya at the dais.

The Juvenile Court and Community Schools student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for November was M’Niya, a senior at San Pasqual Academy.