The Official Blog of the Youth Transition Funders Group

Hosted by Chris Sturgis, Strategic Advisor to YTFG

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act Has Passed

Thanks to the team at Child Focus, we have an update on the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) that passed the Senate in September. This legislation, now headed to the President's desk, has several provisions of interest to our work, including:
  • New procedures for identifying, protecting, and tracking children and youth at risk of sex trafficking, and for locating children missing from foster care; 
  • Requirements for states to support normalcy for children in foster care, including the implementation of a "reasonable and prudent parent standard" for foster parents and child care institutions; 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Federal Leadership Moving in Right Direction with New Grants

Marc Schindler
Originally posted Sept. 24, 2014 at Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Author Marc Schindler is the executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. He previously served as general counsel and interim director at the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The renewal of an important public-private collaboration between the Office of Justice Programs and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a major accomplishment for the juvenile justice field, which has long called for more federal leadership and resources for reforms.

More specifically, the collaboration is a significant achievement for the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, which has advanced systems reform in juvenile justice for more than a decade and prioritizes the four areas of reform now advanced by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention(OJJDP).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


As you may have heard, the Grads of Life campaign launched yesterday.  Grads of Life is a national PSA campaign that seeks to change perceptions employers have of young people with atypical resumes. It is FANTASTIC! Click on the Grads of Life TV spot or the video below.

The website,, offers tools to connect leading employers to employment pathways and nonprofit partners for mentoring, school-to-work programs, internships, and hiring.

And please help to spread the word -- especially in your employer networks:

1. Connect with Grads of Life on twitter (@gradsoflife) and send this tweet:  The countdown has begun. U.S. hiring practices are about to change for the better. #buildabetterworkforce #GradsofLife

2. Send an e-announcement to your networks.  Download a customizable email template here (or just forward this email to your network).

The Grads of Life coalition, in partnership with the Ad Council, Arnold Worldwide, and Edelman, have designed easy-to-use communication tools and resources specifically with you in mind.  All customizable materials and templates have been created to help you promote and highlight your great work with opportunity youth to your constituents and stakeholders.  If you are interested in taking more action or to find out how to get involved, you can download the campaign toolkit, visit, or email the campaign at info (at)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Abuses at Rikers Island: Bandaids Won’t Work

Liz Ryan
Originally August 8, 2014 on SparkAction. Author Liz Ryan is a campaign strategist, youth justice policy expert, and civil and human rights advocate. She founded the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), an organization working to end the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system. 
The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turned 40 this September. To mark this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA.  To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.

An August 4, 2014 article in The New York Times details the horrific abuses of youth by staff at the adult jails where youth under 18 are held pending trial in adult criminal court—abuses confirmed in a lengthy federal investigation led by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Foster Care Work Group Update

Thanks to Mary Bissell of Child Focus and the facilitator of YTFG’s Foster Care Work Group for this great update on the well-being framework and federal policy. 
Advancing the Well-Being Framework
Here are two opportunities to learn more about YTFG’s Foster Care Work Group’s well-being framework:
Federal Policy Update
  • Hearing on Social Impact Bonds for Child and Family Services: On Sept. 9, the Economic Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on H.R. 4885, the Social Impact Bond Act, which was introduced earlier this summer by Representatives John Delaney (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN). The act directs resources to states and local communities to support innovative public-private partnerships to tackle social and public health challenges, while ensuring a smarter, more efficient use of tax dollars. These arrangements are sometimes called social impact bonds or pay-for-performance contracts. These pieces of legislation reflect a broader interest in the field on the application of social impact bonds to child-related services. These bonds are often discussed in the context of juvenile justice and early childhood. Increasingly, they are being included in discussions about the child welfare context, as well, although the common wisdom is that it might be a bit harder to target it on discrete cost-savings mechanisms.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Future Looks Bright: Emerging Leaders Advocate for Change

Originally published Aug. 14, 2014 on SparkAction. Author Yosha Gunasekera is a rising third year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is currently an intern at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turns 40 this September. To mark this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.

Changemakers. From SparkAction.
Hernan Carvente, now in his early twenties, is a research assistant at the Vera Institute for Justice, where he works on issues related to conditions of confinement. Jim St. Germain, meanwhile, is the Executive Director of Preparing Leaders for Tomorrow, a nonprofit focused on providing mentors for youth. James Anderson, the young protégé of director Scott Budnick, advocates for legislative change as the first full-time employee at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). 

The three young men share a commonality beyond their status as activists: Each was previously incarcerated and has overcome his earlier challenges to fight for change in the juvenile justice system.

Monday, September 15, 2014

And The Winners Are...

Jesmyn Ward
We live in a media world. With each breath, we take in other people’s images, ideas, words, and sounds. So it’s vital that we push out into the media world the images, ideas, words and sounds that tell the honest story of young people’s lives, their resilience and courage, and what needs to be put in place so that they can connect by 25.

That’s why I love the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Media for a Just Society Award. They lift up for all of us some of the extraordinary efforts that have helped all of us understand social justice issues including juvenile justice, child welfare, and the forces that are shaping the lives of our young men of color.

The 2014 winners are:

Book: Men We Reaped: A Memoir, Jesmyn Ward, Bloomsbury USA

Friday, September 12, 2014

LGBT Youth in Juvenile Justice: Three Fixes the System Needs

Christina Gilbert
Originally published June 17, 2014 on SparkAction. Author Christina Gilbert is the Director of The Equity Project, a collaborative initiative of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), Legal Services for Children (LSC), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turns 40 this September. To mark this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system. Although LGBT youth represent 5 to 7 percent of the nation’s youth population, they represent 13 to 15 percent of those in the juvenile justice system. This number only includes youth who self-disclosed that identity. The percentage is likely much higher, as LGBT youth are often a hidden or invisible population within the juvenile justice system.