Designed to Fail: New YLC Report Reveals Abusive, Inhumane Treatment of Black Children with Disabilities in TN
YLC’s new investigative report, Designed to Fail, in partnership with Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) exposes the inhumane and abusive treatment of children in the Wilder Youth Development Center In Tennessee- the majority of whom are Black and living with at least one disability. Over the course of YLC and DRT’s investigation into Wilder, we found evidence of rampant physical, mental, and sexual abuse; delays in medical treatment; and violations of federal disability laws. Conditions at Wilder can only be described as dangerous, deplorable and inexcusable. YLC’s report calls on the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) in Tennessee to provide the supports and services youth need to become healthy and productive adults. Wilder, and the other lock-down facilities like it, have become a dangerous dumping group, especially for black and brown youth and those with disabilities. Research shows us that youth are better served with community-based alternatives that have a proven track for both prevention and successful rehabilitation programs. You can view the full report here: https://www.ylc.org/designed-to-fail/.
Check out these recent interviews of YLC staff discussing this new report:
- YLC’s Executive Director Jennifer Rodriguez interviewed by Nashville News Channel 5
- YLC’s Senior Staff Attorney Brian Blalock interviewed by Nashville Public Radio
Check out this op-ed from YLC’s Executive Director Jennifer Rodriguez and DRT’s Executive Director Lisa Primm.
Executive Director: Jennifer Rodriguez
The Youth Law Center advocates to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems across the nation so every child and youth can thrive.
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YLC is, quite simply, effective. The team, led by Jennifer Rodriguez, is top notch, bringing together legal expertise, lived experience, a commitment to being youth-centered, and the advocacy chops to effect systemic change. A recent example is the advocacy around out-of-state placements for foster youth. YLC researched 16 facilities housing CA kids and found abuse, neglect, appalling conditions, and rights violations. YLC’s advocacy campaign resulted in the State of CA halting admissions to those facilities and beginning the process to decertify them in favor of family-based placements. Systems change work takes time but is deeply satisfying, and why the Foundation continues to support YLC.
The Youth Law Center is truly a cornerstone organization, successfully building a network of nonprofit and public sector advocates committed to promoting pathways to and through postsecondary education for youth connected to the juvenile justice system. By fostering links between the probation system and California’s higher education institutions, YLC and its policy advocacy strategy have advanced the notion that justice reform must meaningfully include youth. The team at Youth Law Center is a valuable thought partner to Cal Wellness as we consider our investments to help improve the wellbeing of youth who are too often ignored.
Give to Create Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Youth
Donations to the Youth Law Center will directly support its advocacy to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems so that every young person has access to postsecondary education.
“With additional funding, we can expand our advocacy to ensure that more youth become tomorrow’s leaders,” says Jennifer Rodriguez, Youth Law Center’s Executive Director.
To illustrate the important impact of donations:
•A $1,000 gift would allow YLC to invest in the leadership of a justice-impacted youth to work in partnership with advocates on policy reforms.
•$20,000 is enough to fund an entire advocacy leadership academy to give young people the skills they need to change the very systems that so often hurt them.
•With $100,000, YLC could launch a campaign to secure additional state investment in postsecondary education for justice-impacted youth in order to ensure equitable futures for tens of thousands of vulnerable young people.
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