Literacy DuPage - SPARKING conversation during probation
It started with an observant judge and a compassionate probation officer.

In 2014, probation officer Randall Wernecke was speaking with Chief Judge Daniel Guerin, of the DuPage County 18th Judicial Circuit Court. Judge Guerin noticed probationers in his courtroom who could not understand, read, or fill out necessary forms. He wondered what could be done to help those struggling with English. Randall knew just where to turn. He came to Literacy DuPage with the idea of forming a partnership. In 2015, the DuPage County Department of Probation and Court Services and Literacy DuPage officially established a probation tutoring program, and the first tutor-learner pair began tutoring in early January 2016. 
Since then, Literacy DuPage has helped low-risk probationers foster successful and productive re-entry into the community by increasing literacy skills. This unique program is free to probationers and helps develop their functionality, reach their personal goals, and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, and communities. 
Education is central in assisting probationers with limited-English skills to function as productive citizens. 

The DuPage County probation program plays a unique role in the fabric of the community. A probation sentence allows an offender to work in the community, earn money, and support their family. Additionally, probation is more cost-effective than incarceration.
Research shows that education for probationers with low-literacy skills helps reduce crime and lowers the cost to society. Probation officer Randall has personally seen many lives positively impacted through this collaboration and notes that recidivism is extremely low with probationers in the tutoring program.
Who are the tutor-learner pairs?  

Probationers are screened and referred by the probation department. All probationers in the tutoring program are non-violent offenders, with 65% on probation for a DUI. They all are supervised by an assigned probation officer. Once Literacy DuPage receives the learner referral, we follow our processes and procedures to conduct and complete the learner's registration and pre-test for placement. 
After the learner is matched with a tutor, they identify short- and long-term goals specific to the learner's needs. The tutor develops lessons and activities that increase the learner's communicative skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and helps them achieve their goals. 
This unique approach assists the learner in everyday navigation and communication as a parent, employee, and community member. An additional benefit to the learner is that they receive community service credit hours after completing 35 or more tutoring hours with a Literacy DuPage tutor. 
Literacy DuPage tutors working with a probationer attend a brief orientation session led by the probation department prior to their learner match. Here they learn about the department’s screening and referral process, the types of probationers who are referred, and they can ask questions and share their concerns.
Agnesa's Success Story

Agnesa was arrested and received probation for a DUI in 2019. She was referred to our program and was matched with tutor Marie. Her primary language is Albanian. Agnesa lives with her son's family and works at a hotel as a housekeeper. Agnesa pre-tested as a beginning-level ESL student with minimal English vocabulary and listening and speaking skills. 
During the first few tutoring sessions, Marie and Agnesa identified the vocabulary and communicative skills Agnesa needed to develop so she could have more confidence speaking with hotel guests and her supervisor. After 60 hours of tutoring, Agnesa has improved her skills, gained confidence, and does not shy away from talking with hotel guests. Agnesa is thankful for the opportunity to work with Marie. She has flourished under the empathetic, supportive, and committed care Marie has provided.
You can make a difference!

This opportunity for Literacy DuPage has proved to be successful for tutors and learners, and we need more tutors to be involved. If this newsletter has SPARKED your interest in the program and you would like to learn more or understand how you can be involved, please contact Carol Garcia at
Literacy DuPage - SPARKING conversation during probation
Until next time,

Cassandra Shepherd
Marketing Manager
(630) 942-5210
Literacy DuPage | (630) 942-5210 | Email | Website