Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Supports Juvenile Law Center's Project on Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Youth
The majority of youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems have experienced trauma, including separation from their families, victimization in the home, and violence in the community. Researchers estimate that between 60 and 80% of children in the juvenile justice system have suffered from childhood trauma, and by definition almost all children in the child welfare system have histories of trauma.
Recognizing the need for work in this area, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® recently awarded Juvenile Law Center a grant to support our efforts, through trauma-informed legal advocacy, to improve outcomes for traumatized youth in the child welfare and justice systems. The Foundation's grant builds on earlier support from the ACE Rule of Law Fund.
These grants expand our efforts to address trauma in the child welfare and justice systems from a legal perspective. Juvenile Law Center is working to develop a legal advocacy prototype for youth in foster care and in the justice system that draws on the growing body of trauma research. Our goal is to educate children's lawyers and courts about the legal relevance of trauma in the courts and service-delivery systems.Read Less >
Juvenile Law Center Acts to Establish New Sentencing Policies After Supreme Court Decision Banning Mandatory Life Sentences for Juveniles
Since the United States Supreme Court ruling on June 25 in Miller v. Alabama, banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, Juvenile Law Center has been part of national and state-based leadership teams working to promote new sentencing policies for juveniles convicted of murder. The new policies must conform to Miller's criteria, which include juveniles' greater capacity for rehabilitation and change, as well as the role that the offender played in the crime.
Associate Director Lourdes Rosado recently testified at a public hearing sponsored by Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-12), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pennsylvania and 25 other states must now revise sentencing guidelines taht included mandatory life without parole sentences for youth—sentences deemed unconstitutional by Miller.
Additionally, Juvenile Law Center, in collaboration with Defender Association of Philadelphia and colleagues at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, filed a supplemental brief in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Qu'eed Batts. Batts is serving a mandatory life without parole sentence for a homicide he committed at age 14. Current Pennsylvania law mandates that all juveniles convicted of first and second degree homicide be sentenced to life without parole. The brief argues that, based on Miller, this sentencing scheme is now unconstitutional. Batts' sentence must be vacated and a new sentencing hearing must be provided with an opportunity to provide mitigating evidence.
Juvenile Law Center is coordinating is national JLWOP work with the Equal Justice Initiative and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. Future newsletters will describe this work.
The Pennsylvania Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is setting up a listserv for anyone interested in ending life without parole for juveniles, to stay informed on JLWOP issues. To join this listserv, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stoneleigh Foundation, YOUTHadelphia, and Stone Foundation Provide Grants to Support Youth Engagement
In June, the San Francisco-based Stone Foundation awarded Juvenile Law Center a grant to strengthen our youth engagement work. And the Stoneleigh Foundation has renewed its support of our Youth Speakers Bureau program, which enhances our youth engagement work by providing more opportunities for youth to speak about their experiences in the child welfare and justice systems and develop their public speaking and speechwriting skills.
For the third year in a row, YOUTHadelphia—the Youth Advisory Committee of the Philadelphia Foundation's Fund for Children—has awarded Juvenile Law Center a grant to support our youth engagement programs, Youth Fostering Change and Juveniles for Justice, which create opportunities for youth to advocate for policy change in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.Read Less >
Supervising Attorney Jennifer Pokempner Recognized for Permanency Work
At the 20th Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Office of Children, Youth and Families; Independent Living Services; and the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, Supervising Attorney Jennifer Pokempner received the Permanency Advocate Recognition award. Ms. Pokempner received the award for her contributions to promoting permanency for children with special needs and accomplishments in helping waiting foster children find permanency.Read Less >
Older Youth Extensions of the Fostering Connections to Success Act Are Now Law
Two new Pennsylvania laws will provide greater opportunities and support to older youth in foster care. Act 91 amends various provisions of the Juvenile Act, expanding the criteria for youth to stay in care past age 18 and allowing youth to re-enter foster care before turning 21. Act 80 amends provisions of the Public Welfare Code by extending guardianship and adoption subsidies to age 21 for eligible youth who enter those arrangements at age 13 or older.
Juvenile Law Center has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Act 80 and Act 91 to help child-serving professionals better understand these new laws and how they affect foster youth.Read Less >