Background of Senate Bill 393

(Per the Pew Charitable Trust)

On April 2, 2015, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed into law a set of policies designed to protect public safety; improve outcomes for youth, families, and communities; enhance accountability for juvenile offenders and state agencies; and contain taxpayer costs by prioritizing resources for the most serious offenders. The reforms were expected to reduce the number of youth in residential placements.

The law was based on policy recommendations from the bipartisan Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice, which was established in June 2014 after passage of criminal justice reinvestment legislation the previous year. The 30-member task force conducted a comprehensive analysis of West Virginia’s juvenile court and correctional systems to determine how state resources were being used and whether taxpayers were getting a sufficient public safety return on their investments.

The task force, which received intensive technical assistance from Pew, found that West Virginia was sending many lower-level juvenile offenders to residential placements at a cost of up to $100,000 per person per year. Youth sent to state-funded facilities in 2012 for status offenses—infractions such as skipping school or violating curfew— increased by 255 percent since 2002. The task force also discovered that juveniles were staying longer in residential facilities than in the past.

Based on its analysis, the task force reached unanimous agreement on fiscally sound, data-driven policy recommendations for improving West Virginia’s juvenile justice system. The recommendations served as the basis for S.B. 393, which passed with unanimous bipartisan support in both legislative chambers. The law stipulates that a portion of savings be reinvested in evidence-based community programs that reduce recidivism and improve other outcomes for youth and their families.

Truancy Diversion Grants

As part of Senate Bill 393, the West Virginia Legislature appropriated funds to the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to distribute to Local Education Authorities (LEAs).  Counties used the grant funds to hire a Truancy Diversion Specialist (i.e., School Based Probation Officer with the Supreme Court of Appeals or a Truancy Social Worker through the LEA). To date, twenty-seven LEAs have received funding from this initiative.

In year two and three of the initiative, the WVDE added several innovative pilot projects to address the issue of truancy through student engagement.  Additionally, they implemented collaborative Option Pathway classrooms in five counties to provide judges with educational options without placing the student outside their home when addressing low level offenses like truancy.



Youth Apprenticeship Project links

Student Support

Mission WV (The Bridge Program) missionwv.org

The Bridge program, a project of Mission West Virginia, places full time Mentors in designated High Schools to achieve the educational goals of students in foster/kinship care.  Each Mentor works with a caseload of approximately 30 – 33 students where they focus together on each child’s attendance, behavior, and grades. Referrals for these caseloads come from school counselors, secretaries, teachers, and administrators. The goal for each student is to normalize the high school experience, achieve graduation, and have a post-secondary plan in place. To date, Seniors in the Bridge program have achieved a 100% graduation rate.

Full-time Mentors are currently stationed at:

  • Sissonville High School (Kanawha)
  • Herbert Hoover High School (Kanawha)
  • Sherman High School (Boone)
  • Scott High School (Boone)
  • Hurricane High School (Putnam)

            The Bridge is growing but not yet available statewide, and caseloads are currently full.  For any additional questions feel free to contact  

Ashley Arthur, Bridge Manager: 
Phone 304-562-0723  
168 Midland Trail, Suite 1
Hurricane, WV 25526     

Student Opportunities

The Youth Apprenticeship Intermediary Project

This project is being developed in cooperation with the US Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA), and the Urban Institute (Urban) to create Registered Apprenticeships for young people between the ages of 16 and 21. The purpose of the project is to connect students with employers, workforce development organizations, and other stakeholders before leaving high school.   These connections are expected to continue after high school and include postsecondary education.   All apprenticeship programs are approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and will meet the standards of a Registered Apprenticeship pursuant to 29 CFR Parts 29 and 30. 

Related technical instruction and on-the-job training will include a blend of specific skill sets of state approved CTE courses contextualized to specific occupational training.   These experiences will help students transfer acquired knowledge to work situations and give greater confidence in their abilities.  Upon completion, students will receive an industry-recognized credential from the U.S. Department of Labor specific to the training received. 

Counties interested in pursuing a Youth Apprenticeship Program should contact Stephania Meadows ssmeadow@k12.wv.us.

Truancy Diversion Classrooms

LEA Collaborative: The LEA Classroom is located within the local school district’s building with instruction provided by a WVDE – WVSDT teacher(s). Students are assigned based on LEA definition of truancy in addition to criteria defined by Option Pathway. Collaboration occurs among the district, court, and DHHR to assign or recommend students as a means of diversion from the court system. The district maintains the safety and security of the facility.

Youth Reporting Centers classroom: The YRC Classroom is housed within a BJS operated facility (rented or owned) where instruction provided by a WVDE-WV SDT teacher(s) occurs. BJS, the district, and the LEA collaborate on the students assigned. This may resemble a mixture of court assigned or alternative education assigned students. BJS is responsible for the safety and security of the facility.


  • Greenbrier
  • Pocahontas
  • Randolph
  • Wayne
  • Preston (Location area of MCA)