Mission & Vision


The Youth Law Center  is a public interest law firm that works to protect children in the nation’s foster care and justice systems from abuse and neglect, and to ensure that they receive the necessary support and services to become healthy and productive adults.



We believe every child in state custody deserves to live in a healthy and safe environment, free from abuse or neglect.  We also believe every child deserves the opportunity to become a productive member of society, and to maintain ties to their families and communities whenever possible.


Since 1978, our lawyers have worked across the United States to reduce the use of out-of-home care and incarceration; ensure safe and humane conditions in out-of home placements; keep children out of adult jails; and secure equitable treatment for children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.


Our efforts have focused on strengthening families, and we advocate for education, medical and mental health, legal support, and transition services needed to assure children’s success in care and in the community. We fight for increased accountability of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, and champion professional and public education.



YLC provides national leadership on child welfare and juvenile justice law and system reform issues. We employ a variety of strategies to achieve our mission and vision.  Our staff —

  • Litigate when necessary to bring about system change.
  • Educate policy makers, service providers, public officials, system personnel, advocates, youth, families, and communities regarding the plight and rights of children in state custody.
  • Collaborate with advocates, public agencies, private providers, and other key stakeholders to improve child welfare and justice system policies and practices.
  • Disseminate publications, fact sheets, training curricula, pleadings, briefs, and other resources developed in our advocacy efforts.
  • Advocate on the local, state, and national level to ensure that child welfare and juvenile justice systems protect and support the children they serve.