October 19, 2019

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Breaking News: California Governor signs two YLC-sponsored bills to promote educational opportunity for juvenile justice impacted youth!

Last week, California’s Governor Newsom signed into law two Youth Law Center-sponsored bills, ensuring improved access to education opportunities for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. These policy changes support Youth Law Center’s ongoing work in California to strengthen education opportunities for all system-impacted youth and to build alternatives to youth incarceration. Keep reading for more info about Assembly Bill 1354 and Senate Bill 716, now California laws!

Assembly Bill 1354 (Gipson) – Improve Education Outcomes for Youth Transitioning Home from Incarceration  
Authored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson, AB 1354 fills a gap in education supports for youth with juvenile justice system involvement. Under current law, county probation, county offices of education (COEs), and school districts must have a joint planning policy for helping youth transition out of juvenile facilities and back to their community-based school. But under the current law, no one agency has taken clear responsibility for helping youth to get back to school in their community. The new law requires COEs, in collaboration with probation, to provide oversight to the transition process, to make sure the local school has immediate access to the students’ academic records, and to provide students with information about college programs in their area. Under AB 1354, the COEs also must facilitate the students’ immediate enrollment in a local school, acceptance of their course credits, and their placement in appropriate classes. All students who have been in a juvenile facility for more than 20 consecutive school days will now be entitled to a transition plan to meet their academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and career needs. AB 1354 supports these youths on their path to high school graduation and postsecondary education, and to a healthy adulthood that avoids further contact with the justice system.

Thanks to the efforts of Assembly Member Gipson and supporters of this bill, California is taking responsibility to ensure that youth who have experienced some of the most challenging childhoods receive the transition supports and guidance they need to continue their education, achieve their dreams, and reach their full potential.

Click here to read YLC’s full press release about AB 1354.

Senate Bill 716 (Mitchell) – Postsecondary Access and Success for Youth in Juvenile Detention
Authored by Senator Holly Mitchell, Senate Bill 716 will open new pathways to educational opportunity and success for youth in California detention facilities. Many youth who have completed their high school diploma or equivalent currently receive no education programming in detention, when they could be working towards a college degree or preparing to enroll in college upon return to their home and community. This void disparately impacts youth of color, primarily Black and Latinx students, who are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system because of the criminalization of youthful behavior. This new law requires county probation departments and DJJ to provide access to online college courses to youth in juvenile detention who have their high school diploma or equivalency and encourages new on- and off-campus partnerships for youth. SB 716 supports opportunities for youth to start their college education while in detention and prepares them to continue their studies on campus when they leave the facility. The bill also encourages partnerships with local college campuses to serve youth in the community, allowing movement towards college as a diversion strategy.

San Mateo County Community College District is a key partner in this statewide work to expand educational opportunities for vulnerable youth and in 2018 co-hosted with Youth Law Center the first Pathways to Higher Education conference in California. The District’s Project Change is a model program that offers college courses to incarcerated youth, wrap-around support services on campus for students with juvenile justice system involvement, and opportunities for student leadership and civic engagement. YLC will work closely with Project Change and other partners to support the implementation of Senate Bill 716, as part of ongoing statewide efforts to bring more Pathways to Higher Education to system-impacted youth.

Click here to learn more about YLC’s Pathways to Higher Education initiative and click here to learn more about San Mateo County Community College District’s Project Change.

Click here to read YLC’s full press release about SB 716.