Groundbreaking Win for Youth in Philadelphia!

Philadelphia City Hall

In a monumental win for youth held in facilities in Philadelphia, today City Council and the Mayor struck a budget deal which created an independent youth ombudsman office to receive calls about abuse from families and youth who have been committed to residential facilities by behavioral health, intellectual disability, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. Reports of abuse made by youth in placement are too often ignored; now, they will have an independent investigator committed to identifying and working to ensure that youth are not placed and living in abusive conditions.

In the wake of horrific abuses experienced by Philadelphia’s children in places like Glen Mills and Devereux, the creation of this office is urgent. Our youth advocates in Juveniles for Justice and Youth Fostering Change testified in support of this bill before City Council’s Committee on Children & Youth on April 8th along with members of Juvenile Law Center's staff. Watch their brave and powerful testimony here.

This critical victory was years in the making, and it was made possible by the support and advocacy of people like you. It was accomplished with a cohort of fierce advocates working in coalition, and with the unwavering support of Councilmember Helen Gym. We are grateful to everyone who took time to make a call or send an email to their council member.

As reporter Steve Volk noted in his recent reporting in Billy Penn, the key components of this office are anonymity and subpoena power. Youth in these facilities deserve protection from abuse and violence; with this new office, they will have one more layer of safety they deeply deserve.

Above all, this is a victory for our youth advocates – Juveniles for Justice and Youth Fostering Change, your stories, your voice, and your wisdom reverberated to the highest level of policy making in our city and you made the change you wanted to see possible. We are truly inspired by you. We look forward to standing with you as we now move towards the establishment of this office and implementation of its mission– and we hope to see similar offices open across the country.

About the Expert

As Youth Advocacy Program Manager, Cathy manages, coordinates, and facilitates the office's youth advocacy programs: Advocates Transforming Youth Systems, Advocates for Youth Justice, and the Youth Speakers Bureau. Additionally, Cathy supervises the yearly social work intern.