May 19, 2022

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YLC Reissues Report "Closing the Extracurriculars Gap"

Three years ago the Youth Law Center first issued the publication “Closing the Extracurriculars Gap: Prioritizing Extracurricular Activities as a Key Intervention for Children and Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice” to make the case for action to ensure that young people in foster care have meaningful access to extracurricular and enrichment activities. YLC and California Youth Connection are reissuing this report now, in early 2022, as an urgent call to action in California  where legislation is pending that would make the opportunity for participation in enrichment activities a reality for young people in foster care. If  passed, AB 2945, authored by State Assemblymember Arambula, would provide funding to support participation in extracurricular activities and accountability measures to ensure that young people in foster care receive the benefit of the law.

The publication explores the critical role of extracurricular activities for children and youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, examines the benefits of extracurricular participation, the barriers young people face, and details steps that should be taken to ensure our young people have access to this crucial intervention, which has been shown to improve a broad array of childhood and adult outcomes. As we emerge from a global pandemic and face a mental health crisis, the need for positive interventions that help youth heal and support healthy childhood development has never been more urgent.

The publications argues that systems must think in an entirely new way about extracurriculars: as a key intervention for children and youth — not an extra. As systems move away from practices that  have been demonstrated to be not only ineffective, but also harmful—such as the use of group  care and secure confinement—it is imperative  that these outdated practices are replaced with  supports that improve the lives of young people, including high-quality parenting and participation in age- and developmentally appropriate activities, including extracurriculars.