For more than three decades the Youth Law Center has forged systemic and sustained change within the foster care and juvenile justice systems. YLC has helped tens of thousands of children by:

  • Securing legal victories and legislative advances that protect youth against incarceration in adult jails
  • Winning judgments that spare children in custody from abusive forms of restraint and punishment
  • Implementing laws that keep babies and young children in family settings or with relatives
  • Reducing unnecessary incarceration through litigation, policy advocacy and training
  • Assuring that children in public systems receive needed education, mental health and rehabilitative services, and
  • Helping to strengthen legal representation of children through advocacy, training and trial support

2013 Milestones

  • Expanded the Baby Elmo Program to include the Indian River Medium Security Juvenile Facility outside of Canton, Ohio, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Hartford, Connecticut in partnership with their rehabilitative services and Boy’s Club to help turn fathers into Dads.  The Baby Elmo Program is now in three states with five sites in California.
  • Sue Burrell was appointed to fill the juvenile advocate seat on the newly created Juvenile Justice Standing Committee of the Board of State and Community Corrections
  • Served as Invited Guest on Environment of Care at National Child Traumatic Stress Network convening on Current Issues and New Directions in Creating Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice Systems
  • Celebrated the end of L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, which transformed juvenile parole in California, and helped to prompt realignment of parole supervision to the counties

2012 Milestones

  • Hosted four young children in foster care webinars, on attachment, child care, transitions and icebreakers and foster parent and bio parent relationships
  • Wrote law review, Contracts for Appointed Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Cases: Defining Expectations, that was published in  the UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy
  • With the Annie E. Casey Foundation, hosted a two-day meeting where leading researchers from as far away as Israel and the Netherland joined policy makers and advocates to discuss the implications of existing research that show the detrimental effect of group care on adolescent development.
  • Working with other advocates, enacting five California laws protecting children in school disciplinary matters and giving them the support they need for educational success
  • With other advocates, serving as amicus curiae in People v. Caballero, holding that juveniles tried as adult may not be sentenced to de facto life sentences, and must be given an opportunity for release
  • Expanded QPI to include 18 California counties and Nevada and Connecticut
  • Wrote article with Dr. Charles Zeanah and Mary Dozier on institutional care for young children
  • Provided trainings with Bay Area Legal Aid and the Alliance for Children’s Rights to attorneys for children, Family Resource Network, public defenders.

2011 Milestones

  • Implementing programs that guarantee developmentally appropriate trauma care for children who have been abused or neglected
  • Successfully advocating for ensuring support for children ages 18 to 21, who would otherwise have aged out of foster care
  • Through technical assistance and training, improving educational services for children in foster care and the juvenile justice system
  • Producing, and authoring substantial parts of a handbook for advocates on collateral consequences of juvenile delinquency proceedings
  • Improving the quality of legal representation for children in the juvenile justice system though ongoing trial support and training
  • Contributing to stronger state and national standards governing the care and treatment of youth in juvenile institutional settings, including the Prison Rape Elimination Act
  • Continuing to implement major changes in California’s juvenile parole system
  • Advocating for laws and policy that reduce the transfer of youth to the adult system and reduce the length of adult sentences