LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to explore the creation of a youth advisory group to provide policy input.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl co-authored the recommendation to give young people a voice.
“Young people must have a seat at the table — whether we are reshaping our probation system, improving opportunities for foster youth, or improving access to mental healthcare at our schools,” Hahn said. “Young people with lived experience are the best possible advocates for their peers.”
Community groups like the Youth Justice Coalition, JusticeLA Coalition and Dignity & Power Now have long advocated for changes in the criminal justice system and seem to have been successful in moving the board on some hard-fought issues, including a decision not to build a women’s jail on the site of the federal Mira Loma Detention Center. Many of the people on the front lines of those groups are teens and young adults.
Their efforts usually take the form of rallies and protests on the steps of the downtown Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, speaking out during the board’s weekly meetings or writing letters to the supervisors. But there is no formal advisory role.
Hahn said the idea for the advisory group came from Tiffany Boyd, Hahn’s appointee to the Commission on Children and Families and a longtime advocate for children and young adults in foster care.
“I am happy to support this motion which will explore the creation of a permanent Youth Advisory Board to provide input in every program that involves county young people,” Kuehl said. “It’s so important that our policy solutions be created with, not just for, youth.”
The proposal is for a body made up of young people who have been part of the juvenile justice or child welfare system that would be tasked with offering insight to the board, county departments and community-based organizations on how to improve policies and program for youth and families.
A report back, including recommendations on how the group would fit into the county organizational chart and how to compensate youth for any work they do, is expected in 120 days.