LA County’s New Youth Development Department Aims to Transform Youth Justice

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Youth development (Photo – Pathways4youth.org)

Los Angeles County took a big step this week and launched a new Department of Youth Development (DYD).

By News Desk

The county’s new Department of Youth Development intends to transform the way county systems treat young people and will invest in their development, well-being and safety.

“Youth justice is not just about making sure we provide fair alternatives to arrest and system intervention,” said Vincent Holmes, the new acting director of the Ministry of Development. the youth. “It also means ensuring that every young person in LA County has access to the youth development and care opportunities they deserve.”

Fewer than 450 youths are now in the county’s juvenile centers and camps, but thousands of children are arrested or cited each year in LA County. Evidence shows that their lives are disrupted even by first contact with the justice system, and that negative outcomes increase exponentially with deeper involvement of the system.

Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, views the Department of Youth Development’s mission as a necessary step in improving community safety and equity in LA County.

Black youth and other youth of color are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of contact with the justice system at every stage.

About 80% of arrests or citations of minors are for alleged “status offences”, such as violating curfew, or non-serious, non-violent offenses, or for crimes that are legally eligible for referral. community diversion and development services. The Department of Youth Development will centralize the county’s response to this miscarriage of justice, guided by adolescent equity and development research.

Vincent Holmes, the new Acting Director of the Department of Youth Development, brings more than 32 years of public sector experience with the County and Superior Court of Los Angeles. He has extensive experience in creating innovative programs to serve people involved in justice, through:

  • ATI Incubation Academy,
  • Measure J/Care First Community Investment (CFCI),
  • The Gang Violence Reduction Project.
  • The My Brother’s Keeper initiative, among others.

He has established relationships with partners in the justice system and is highly respected by local leaders, the community and young people.

When launched, the Department of Youth Development also has the benefit of leveraging the work of the county’s Youth Justice Reimagined initiative. Holmes is excited to continue working alongside youth advocates with lived experience who have helped inspire the Commission’s bold vision for youth justice. among others.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the work is innovative, but well-researched.

Providing early and equitable access to resources that help young people grow and develop can change the trajectory of their lives. Expanding diversion and youth development programs to continue to equitably reduce involvement of the youth justice system, building the capacity of youth and youth development centers, and supporting credible messengers in schools and other youth-serving systems are just a few of the key components of the Youth Department. Initial development vision.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger stressed the importance of other county departments supporting this work.

This historic moment is possible thanks to the incredible vision and tireless efforts of a wide range of partners, including young leaders like Jacob Jackson.

“It’s important to center the young people who are affected at every step of the process, making the health and well-being of young people the core values ​​of the department,” Jackson said. “Don’t be afraid of change. The Department of Youth Development should be the home and support that some people currently lack, whether they are homeless, in foster care, incarcerated or affected by the system.

Anyone interested in following the life-changing work of the Department of Youth Development can sign up to receive updates at this link.

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