What educational options do I have while I’m on probation or parole?
It depends. Once you are released, you will have access to free resources available in the community—including the Internet, public libraries, and community service organizations—that can help you do research, apply to schools and programs, and get financial assistance (“financial aid”) to help pay for your education. You may also become eligible (qualify) for more types of financial aid once you are released, which can allow you to consider schools or programs that you otherwise might not be able to afford.
However, the educational options available to you ultimately depend on where you live (urban areas tend to have more options), your life circumstances (such as family responsibilities), and any probation or parole conditions that might affect your access to educational programs and services (such as travel restrictions).
NOTE: Your parole agent or probation officer should be supportive and encourage you to pursue your educational goals as part of your successful reintegration. If you find that s/he is not supportive, or that your conditions make it difficult or impossible for you to get an education, call Root & Rebound’s reentry hotline by calling 510-279-4662, any Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. PST for strategies, information, and support.
A Few Great Resources:
Public LibrariesThe local public library is an important gateway to other services and resources in your community. In addition to offering free access to computers and the Internet, libraries often have adult education classes, community calendars (support group meetings, free clinics, etc.), and some government forms that you might need. Librarians are also available to help you find whatever information you need. To find the public library closest to you:
- Check under “library” or “public library” in the city government section of your local phone book; Search the Internet for “library” or “public library” along with the name of your city or county; and/or You can also search the national database of public libraries provided by the Institute of Museum & Library Services at: http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_united_states_survey.aspx.
America’s Job Centers of California (formerly called EDD One-Stop Centers)America’s Job Centers of California offer many resources, all in one place, for people seeking a job or more education. Most services are free, but there may be a fee for some specialized education and training programs. Some of the services provided by America’s Job Centers include:
- Skills assessment: Staff can help you identify the skills you have and the skills you need to be ready for education, training, and/or employment. Career counseling: Counselors can help you identify jobs and professions that you might be interested in based on your skills, interests, and experience. They also can tell you about the job market in your local area.Training or referrals to training programs: Staff may provide direct training or refer you to training programs that can help you prepare to continue your education or enter the workforce.Referrals to other resources or services. Staff can direct you to organizations that can help you with other needs, such as transportation, child care, welfare assistance, unemployment insurance, and veterans’ services.
You can find an America’s Job Center of California in your area by:
- Calling the CareerOneStop helpline at 1-877-348-0502 or the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Helpline at: 1-877-872-5627; or bySearching the CareerOneStop Service Locator website at: http://www.servicelocator.org, or the America’s Job Center of California website at: http://americasjobcenter.ca.gov/.For more information about using America’s Job Centers of California (EDD One-Stop Centers) to prepare for or find a job, see the EMPLOYMENT CHAPTER, beginning on PG. 551, with more details on America’s Job Centers on PG. 559).
Community OrganizationsCommunity organizations provide many kinds of services. Most are free, but some may charge a fee. These organizations can help with employment, education, health care, counseling, housing, substance abuse treatment, transportation, and childcare. They also can provide referrals to other agencies. There are different ways you can find community organizations:
- 2-1-1: A community information service that connects you to local agencies, services, and organizations that can help you with a variety of needs. To contact 2-1-1: Call 2-1-1 from any phone (note: phone service may not be available in all communities yet);Visit the 2-1-1 Information & Referral Search website at http://www.211.org; orSome communities also publish a paper copy of the 2-1-1 guide. Check your local public library to see if the paper guide is available in your community.Local Public Library: Often there will be a community message board with contact information for local organizations, or you can ask the librarian to recommend local resources (see above).
TIP: Make a list ready of the resources that you want to research before you go to the library. This will save you a lot of time and help you better organize your search. This is especially important if you are under time limitations because of curfews or restrictions imposed by your parole agent or probation officer.
See Cal. Dep’t Corr. & Rehab., Operations Manual, 101010.1–101010.5.1 (2015). ↑
For example, in Alameda County, “The Big Blue Book” is a comprehensive guide to Alameda County health and human services agencies and organizations. Although the book is not free, it is sold to hundreds of non-profits, government agencies, faith-based organizations, and community organizations. To purchase, visit Big Blue Book, Eden I&R Inc., http://www.edenir.org/BigBlueBook.html. ↑