The ExCel ARCH Project targets the successful reintegration of youth into their community following open custody with the objective of reducing crime by preventing repeated criminal behaviour in this population of youth at high risk for re-offending. This Project is supported by the Safe Communities Innovation Fund for a three-year implementation period (2010 – 2013) and is offered in partnership with Alberta Solicitor General: Young Offender Branch / CYOC, Alberta Learning: Westview School, and Alberta Health Services: Addiction Services for Youth.

Youth involved with the justice system are vulnerable to entering a pattern of repeat offences and are at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health challenges. Research supports the need for a holistic approach to helping justice-involved youth change their trajectory. While in open custody, young people begin to change their attitudes and make different, more positive decisions for their lives, but the length of the open custody sentence does not correspond to the length of time they need to consolidate their progress. Thus a gap is introduced where youth are not always ready to take on the challenges and stresses waiting for them in the community, some of which were catalysts for their original offending behaviour.

The ARCH Project is an initiative that targets youth serving open custody sentences at the ExCel Discovery Program, CYOC and other open custody facilities; the project will provide post-discharge service through an individualized support plan aimed at consolidating and maintaining the youth’s progress while in their open custody program. Adding two reintegration specialists (who will be working under the youth friendly title of ‘Transition Facilitators’) to our team will allow us to build on the youth’s initial gains while in open custody and help them maintain those gains and use them to achieve and sustain a successful transition back into their homes and communities as well as reduce the reoccurrence of offending behaviour. The Transition Facilitators will begin to form a relationship and create a post-discharge plan in conjunction with the youth, with their Key Worker while the youth is participating in the open custody program, and with the cross-discipline partners involved in their program in advance of their release. The Transition Facilitators will build on that initial connection and the individualized recommendations to create a transition plan with each youth to support their successful reintegration into their home community for a minimum of 3 months post-discharge.