Our Philadelphia-based youth engagement programs, Juveniles for Justice and Youth Fostering Change, create opportunities for youth to advocate for policy change in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. It’s our goal to foster systemic change through conversations with legislators, media outreach, and public education while simultaneously helping youth develop leadership skills, political knowledge, and a sense of civic and community engagement. Participation allows young people to lend their optimism, creativity, and insights to the advocacy field.
In conjunction with these programs, we also conduct "Know Your Rights" trainings for those currently involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, and support the Youth Advisory Board, a group of current and former foster care youth ages 16-21 that works to create positive change in the substitute care system. In 2011, we founded the Youth Speakers Bureau to increase youth's voice in improving the juvenile justice and child welfare system. Youth Speakers Bureau partners Youth Advocates with undergraduate speaking advisors from the University of Pennsylvania to help the youth develop public speaking and speechwriting skills so they can share their experiences and opinions on the child welfare and juvenile justice systems with clarity and confidence.
In one study, over half of youth in juvenile detention have not completed the eighth grade and two-thirds of those leaving formal custody do not return to school.
Roy-Stevens, Cory. "Overcoming Barriers to School Reentry." National Criminal Justice Reference Service. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Oct. 2004. Web. May 2011.
Juveniles are not as capable of socially responsible decision making as adults.
Cauffman, Elizabet and Steinberg, Laurence. "(Im)maturity of Judgment in Adolescence: Why Adolescents May Be Less Culpable Than Adults." Behavioral Sciences and the Law 18.6 (2000): 741-760. Web. 23 May 2011.
Studies have found that delinquent youth are more than seven times as likely to show a history of adult unemployment and welfare dependence than non-delinquent youth.
Sampson, Robert J., Laub, John H. "Crime and Deviance Over the Life Course: The Salience of Adult Social Bonds." American Sociological Review 55.5 (1990): 609-627. Web.