Who We Advocate For
We believe all children and youth deserve to have quality legal representation regardless of race, ethnicity, disability and identity.
We believe all children and youth deserve to have meaningful access to resources and supports that will help them overcome trauma caused by bias and discrimination. We believe all children and youth deserve to live in an environment were they are safe, loved and encouraged to thrive.
Impact of Bias and Discrimination
Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the Brown v. Board of Education opinion,
"To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
After almost seventy years after Brown v. Board of Education was decided, social inequities between children still exist. Children of color are over-represented in both our child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
See Disproportionality and Race Equity in Child Welfare, National Conference of State Legislators.
Youth of color constitute approximately one-third of the adolescent population in the U.S. but two-thirds of incarcerated youth. See Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System, National Conference of State Legislators.
Rights of Children, Youth and Parents When Questioned About Their Identifying Information
Children, youth and parents have rights when being asked about identifying information when demographic data is being collected about an individual's race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, language spoken, disability, religion and tribal affiliation. The Center for the Study of Social Policy has created a guide, Our Identities-Ourselves: Know Your Rights Guide for Young People and Families to help individuals express their personal identity.
We believe LGBTQ+ youth deserve to be supported and affirmed in their identity. Resources & Support for LGBTQ+ Youth
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
The Indian Child Welfare Act was established by the United States Congress in 1978 in response to American Indian children being removed from their homes and communities at a much higher rate than non-Native children and placed into foster care and adoption cases. ICWA was enacted to keep Native American children connected to their families and Tribes, to protect the rights and culture of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families. Currently pending before the United States Supreme Court is Brackeen v. Haaland to determine the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act. For more information on the Importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act to preserving Native American culture please visit: Native American Rights Fund.
The Youth Law Center strives to provide its staff with the resources and training to not only be culturally competent but also to practice cultural humility with the children and families we serve. Our staff understands how implicit and explicit biases impact key-decision making points within the systems we work. We understand racism has a negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of the children we work with and leaves them more vulnerable than other children.
In December 2021 the Youth Law Center board passed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy to ensure that when hiring staff, employing consultants and recruiting board members we are sensitive to representing the diversity within our community.