WHAT WE BELIEVE

TeamChild believes that young people will thrive when they are surrounded by people who care about them and can access resources that support them. We fight for effective solutions – community-driven strategies that nurture and develop the health and wellbeing of young people, instead of exclusion and incarceration. Achieving our VISION requires a bold goal of eliminating the use of youth incarceration across Washington State.

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We know that all teenagers take risks and make mistakes. And what we’ve instinctively known to be true is now proven by research: the teenage brain is wired differently. Passion, creativity, impulsiveness, questioning authority, and susceptibility to peer influence are all part of a normally developing teen brain.

We also know that children are growing up in environments that are stressed by poverty, discrimination, and racism. This makes them feel isolated and marginalized, whether at home, in school, or in their community. These factors impact healthy brain development and behavior, and snap decisions can put them in conflict with the law.

No one should be defined by their worst mistake. TeamChild will stand with youth at their lowest moments ensuring that justice isn’t out of reach for young people and their families.

We believe that exclusion and incarceration don’t work. Less money spent on incarceration and punishment allows us to invest in resources that actually help kids that come in conflict with the law, while also helping make our neighborhoods safe and our economy thrive.

Punitive “solutions” often exacerbate the challenges youth face and fail to hold agencies accountable for the role they play in contributing to these problems. Punishment frequently has less to do with fairness and more to do with where you live, the color of your skin, how much money you have, and who is or isn’t around to help you. We envision a world where all young people have power and experience unconditional belonging at school, at home and in their communities.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

We believe that sustainable results for young people are best achieved when our advocacy is driven by our clients and our community. Young people are the experts about their own lived experiences and needs, and they are centered in our legal services work. Youth prioritize their goals and call the shots about decisions that impact their lives, while TeamChild acts as navigators, legal advisors, and advocates.

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When it comes to addressing larger issues, our collective success depends on focused engagement and collaboration with impacted youth and families, social service partners, systems stakeholders, and community and business leaders. As we expand our policy work and systems change efforts, we are working on becoming more community-driven – in the same way that we are youth-driven in our legal services work.

We have a lot to learn about being in an accountable relationship with community. We are committed to this ongoing process, and are always open to feedback that will help us grow along the way.

What are markers of effective solutions?

  • Respond to the full range of young people’s needs – not fragmented
  • Foster growth and development by restoring dignity and promoting healing and inclusiveness – not punitive
  • Developed with youth, families, and communities struggling with exclusion and justice system entanglement – not divorced from those most impacted

CALL US TeamChild staff are working remotely and can be reached by e-mail and phone. Track our advocacy efforts HERE.