Victory for California Children and Youth’s Access to Extracurriculars, One of the Most Important Interventions
While extracurricular and enrichment activities like summer camp, dance lessons and sports are a key part of most children’s childhood, for children and youth in foster care and juvenile justice, these activities are often far out of reach due to expense, systems barriers and a lack of understanding of how critical they are to healthy development. The Youth Law Center has been advocating for years for policy reform, state resources, and practice changes that ensure that children and youth in systems have access to the activities that research has shown treat the effects of early adversity, aid healthy development, and build connections and support for both youth and families. YLC and current and former foster youth at California Youth Connection (CYC) recently reissued our report “Closing the Extracurriculars Gap: Prioritizing Extracurricular Activities” to remind policy makers of the benefits of extracurricular participation, the barriers young people face, and steps that should be taken to ensure our young people have access to this crucial intervention, which has been shown to improve a broad array of childhood and adult outcomes.
These efforts resulted in success this year when YLC’s extracurricular activity state funding request was included in the signed California budget as one of several activities eligible to support children and their foster families with $50 million of state funding over the next few years! AB 178 designates funds that can cover the costs associated with a child or youth’s participation in enrichment activities to support their well-being. Our hope is this victory is just the beginning of new resources and policy that will ensure that every child and youth in foster care and juvenile justice has the opportunity participate in the activities that develop their skills, build their confidence, and most importantly, allow them to access the joy and fun that should be a part of childhood.
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.
Alyssa Martin Anderson
Fatima Goss Graves
Honorable Tomar Mason
Howard and Carol Fine
Matthew and Moon Gemello
William S. Koski and Sundari Wind
Andrus Family Fund
Annie E. Casey Foundation
The California Wellness Foundation
May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust
Tipping Point Community
van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation
The Walter S. Johnson Foundation
Zellerbach Family Foundation