National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Youth Reinvestment Fund
California Budget

In 2016, more than 40,000 California youth were arrested or cited by law enforcement officers for misdemeanor and status offenses. A disproportionate number were children of color, low income, children with disabilities, girls, youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, and foster children.

System-involved youth suffer from abuse, abandonment, neglect, trauma and developmental disabilities that influence their behaviors. Rather than receive supports and services to address their needs, they are funneled into the justice system where they experience further harms, increasing their chances of re-incarceration.

This proposal would allocate $100 million to create local youth diversion and development systems that are socially and fiscally responsible by treating all children arrested for low level offenses appropriately for their age, in community settings, with an emphasis on health and wellbeing. Under this initiative, nonprofit and community-based organizations will collaborate with public agencies to expand local youth diversion programs and deliver developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant services in under-served communities statewide.

The Youth Reinvestment Fund proposal allocates:

  • $15 million to hire social workers to support cases involving minors in juvenile or criminal court, including youth re-entry and other critical youth-related needs of the public defender office.
  • $10 million to fund Tribal Diversion Programs for Native American youth.
  • $75 million to fund Local Diversion Programs & Community-Based Services for youth at risk of system involvement over a 3-year grant period.

Youth need care, not cages. California needs to commit to a youth justice system that is developmentally appropriate and encourages the healthy development and wellbeing of all of our children.

Add your organizational support here.