The Center seeks to support system changes that create a holistic continuum of community-based services to prioritize positive youth development and reduce or eliminate our current juvenile justice system
A transformed youth justice system calls for a rehabilitative, health-focused, and care-first approach. To be effective and sustainable, this effort will require public and private partners working together to rethink every aspect of the youth justice continuum, including diversion, restorative justice, alternatives to placement and detention, family and community engagement, and staff well-being. This effort complements the County’s current efforts to transform the adult jail system through Care First and Community Investment (formerly known as Measure J) and the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative.
The Center is also committed to expanding and strengthening youth development opportunities throughout Los Angeles. Youth development programs improve outcomes by supporting young people with mentorship, job development and training, educational supports, arts, sports, and life skills.
Youth development and empowerment in the news:
- LA County expands program diverting youth from juvenile justice system (Spectrum News 1)
- How Los Angeles County Expanded Youth Diversion (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
Center team lead: Lizzie Cohen
In November 2020, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create a new Department of Youth Development. The Center is working closely with County leads to engage philanthropy in ongoing support of this effort to move young people out of the Probation Department’s halls and camps and implement a “care-first” approach that emphasizes treatment, emotional support, and community-based resources.
In November 2018, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance selected L.A. County to be 1 of 10 National Impact Communities, providing funding to help ensure a greater number of boys and young men of color are positioned to succeed. The Center worked with the Department of Mental Health to secure matching funds to expand trauma-responsive school-based interventions, and we continue to work closely with the County’s MBK Initiative.
CHALLENGER MEMORIAL YOUTH CENTER TRANSITION
Supervisor Barger’s office is leading an effort to close the largest juvenile detention facility in the United States and transform the site into a voluntary residential educational and career training center for youth and young adults who were formerly involved in the criminal justice and/or foster care systems. The Center is working closely with Supervisor Barger’s office and the CEO to develop the program and connect this work to our ongoing efforts in the Antelope Valley.
In partnership with DCFS, LA County’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and the Center, Friends of the Children–Los Angeles has developed a set of trauma-informed, culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate services to support the successful transition of Black boys and youth from foster care to adulthood. The Fostering Resilience pilot project, launched in May 2021, connects boys with professional mentors to prevent and reduce contact with law enforcement, and ultimately create conditions for them to thrive.
Positioned at the confluence of philanthropy, government, nonprofits and the community, the Center team deftly plays the role of catalyst, facilitator and convener for numerous impactful pilots and projects in LA County. The innovative model has truly created an environment of equitable change for system impacted youth and families in Los Angeles.