Our work with hundreds of youth each year across the state reveal ways in which our public systems can produce amazing outcomes for youth. We also see the ways in which they fall short. Our legal expertise and training give us a unique view of what contributes to poor outcomes, especially for youth who are marginalized by poverty, race and disability. Our vantage point shows how racism and inequity are woven into the structures of our public systems of care. The punitive strategies in school discipline and juvenile justice exacerbate these inequities because youth of color, youth with disabilities and poor youth bear a greater burden of their impact.
We believe that our educational, healthcare, child welfare and juvenile justice systems are capable of transforming in ways that reject incarceration, exclusion, and punishment and prioritize well-being and equitable opportunities that keep youth on successful paths. Our measures of success include drastic reduction in youth incarceration and exclusionary discipline rates.
We use a variety of tactics to advance policy goals. We use data, research, and systems analysis to shine light where laws and practices allow for disparities and poor outcomes to persist. We take on the role of calling in key stakeholders and partners to recognize and dismantle systems that don’t work through legislative and rule change and engagement in state and local taskforces. We intervene in court cases that advance the law to protect the rights of youth. And, we leverage our access to policy makers and the courts so that impacted youth and community are developing and driving the solutions and strategies that replace outdated and ineffective approaches that dehumanize, isolate and damage youth.