We envision a world where system interventions and approaches prioritize children’s humanity and needs.
The Youth Law Center advocates to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems across the nation so every child and youth can thrive.
For the past forty years, the Youth Law Center has been a thought leader in advocacy for children and youth in the nation’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
The Late 70’s and Early 80’s: Ending Harmful Practices
The Youth Law Center led advocacy efforts to end harmful and destructive practices such as, incarcerating children in adult facilities, isolating children for extended periods of time, shackling and hog-tying children, and incarcerating children for disobedience or running away. YLC’s multi-systemic, whole-child approach addressed issues common to the juvenile justice, child welfare and mental health systems, eliminating silos and tailoring services to each individual child.
The 1990’s to Today: Working to Transform Systems
While we continue our work to stop harmful practices such as reliance on incarceration and group care, we also work to transform systems to nurture the inherent health and potential of children. YLC has led efforts to:
- Bring the voice of youth and families to policymakers.
- Apply the latest brain and developmental science to child welfare practice for babies.
- Focus on excellent care driven by evidence-based and participant-driven policies and practices.
- Ensure that all youth, whether in foster care, or the juvenile justice system, have access to needed transition, health and educational supports.
- Bring faith communities together to support and advocate for children in state custody.
Core Principles Guiding Our Work
Our Unique Approach
- Listening to the voices of clients and consumers including children and youth, their birth families, and foster and kinship families when deciding what problems to approach and designing solutions.
- Integrating research in the design of litigation, system change approaches and solutions from diverse fields including child development, psychology, behavioral economics, marketing and branding, and adult learning.
- Using advocacy that is based on a standard of “advocating for children in care as if they are our own”. This results in advocacy focused on high expectations, and an individual approach.
- Knowledge of the law, research and the facts on the ground.
- Integrity to do what is best for our clients regardless of financial or social consequences to ourselves, and to be deserving of the trust of our supporters and clients.
- Commitment to pursue solutions urgently and relentlessly.
- Respect for the individuality of children and families and their potential to thrive, and respect for the efforts of those who strive to serve them.
Our team is a group of creative, flexible, strategic advocates, driven by a deep knowledge of systems, and informed by a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
The Youth Law Center’s Board of Directors includes a talented, committed group of legal professionals and advocates from California and around the country.
Attorney at Law
Senior Vice Chair
Howard F. Fine
Attorney at Law (Retired)
Matthew R. Gemello
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Foreman Consulting, Inc.
Court Appointed Special Advocate
Members of the Board
Merck & Co., Inc.
Center for Children's Law & Policy (Retired)
William S. Koski
Stanford Law School
Join Our Team
If you share our values and are excited about joining a team of advocates dedicated to system change in an organization utilizing both traditional and innovative advocacy strategies based on the actual and evolving needs of system involved children and youth, we’d like to talk to you.