California

Name of group: California Youth Connection (CYC) – founding partner of Foster Youth in Action

When started: 1988

Advocating for: the 54,000 foster youth in California

Providing the model for Foster Youth in Action: The youth of CYC always wanted to give youth in other states the same opportunities they had – the chance to get involved and make a difference. In 2007, the CYC Board determined that the best way to have a long-term national impact would be to create a separate organization, and Foster Youth in Action was born. Former youth and adult leaders of California Youth Connection launched the Action Network and the process of building a national movement moved into its next stage.

“CYC is a model for youth advocacy that other states are trying to replicate, and for a good reason. Who better to improve the foster care system than those young people who are transitioning out, using their own life experiences to make things better for those to follow them? That unique mission of empowering those youth makes CYC one of the best models for advocacy in the state- on any issue. I’m proud to have partnered with CYC to enact many improvements to California’s foster care system, and I couldn’t’ have done any of it without them.” – Darrell Steinberg, President Pro Temp of the Senate

Accomplishments:

  • Annual Foster Youth Shadow Day: Matching current and former foster youth with their local legislator to shadow him/her for a day. To learn about the system and gain a personal relationship with the youth’s legislator
  • Passing dozens of new laws that reflect the priorities and input of foster youth across the state and that have improved the system in ways that would have been impossible without organized foster youth involvement. Some recent legislation includes: AB1393 – Prioritizes foster youth for housing on college campuses; AB1412 – Permanency Planning – requires social workers to ask all foster youth about who is important to them and take actions to maintain those relationships; AB 409- Foster Youth Education Rights, etc.
  • AB 12 – Extending foster care until the age of 21: CYC is ambitious in the process of having AB 12 implemented and bringing the youth voice to the table as the plans for execution of AB 12 come to fruition. CYC has hired a staff member dedicated to the implementation process of AB 12 and former foster youth as interns to lead this charge. AB 12 is the result of federal legislation, Fostering Connections to Success Act, which allows states to receive federal funding for youth until the age of 21.
  • Local chapters have helped change county wide policy such as: the use of CYC youth created check lists for judges to ensure youth aging out have all their necessary documents, developing policy and changing how youth are treated and welcomed at local children/youth assessment centers, developing a system in which all undocumented youth aging out of care have a lawyer working to ensure that their residency paperwork is taken care of before aging out, etc.
  • Expanding our membership to 33 active county-based chapters
  • Participating on multiple statewide committees that set the agenda for child welfare reform
  • Creating a county wide system’s collaborative: such as HCTAYC (Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration)
  • Developed an internship program for current and former foster youth with the CYC statewide office for youth attending a higher education institution