July 18, 2022


California Makes Historic Investment into Post-Secondary Education Programs for Juvenile Justice Involved Youth

California’s juvenile justice system intervenes in the lives of some of the children who have experienced the greatest challenges, and promises to provide them treatment, care, guidance, rehabilitation, and a pathway to a better future. This promise is critical for the health of our youth and our communities. Education should be central to that mission. But too frequently, youth in the juvenile justice system are denied access to the supports and resources they need to access basic education, graduate high school and pursue the postsecondary education that might provide them the keys to a different life. While education has been proven to be one of the most effective strategies to reduce youth’s future contact with the justice system, college is often completely out of reach for students in the juvenile justice system. 

The Youth Law Center’s Pathways from Youth Incarceration to Higher Education project has led the charge to create new college educational opportunities for justice involved youth for the past seven years. Our vision is that college, in particular community college, can prevent youth incarceration and serve as a support to allow youth who are returning home to their community from incarceration to thrive. YLC’s advocacy victories include creating new state laws that create educational protections, rights and access for youth; collaboration with community and state colleges to scale and replicate model supportive college campus programming for youth; and advocacy to create new resources that prioritize college opportunities for these students. Our vision is that every student has opportunities to reach their full potential. 

This summer, YLC celebrates yet another advocacy milestone towards our vision of college access and success for our youth. On June 30th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s budget, which contained a historic investment of $15 million in funding to community colleges specifically for youth impacted by the juvenile justice system.  As the first state in the country to dedicate postsecondary funding specifically to these youth, California is setting a national model for effective youth justice investment. The ongoing annual funds of $15 million will fund model programming at up to 45 community colleges to help students  receive strong support and services to access and complete their college education and reach their full potential. 

Read our full press release here.