Positive Youth Justice Initiative - YOLO
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Positive Youth Justice in Yolo County
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Sierra Health Foundation's Positive Youth Justice Initiative (PYJI) supports California counties in transforming their local juvenile justice systems to improve the education, employment, social and health outcomes of crossover youth - youth who have been formally involved in the child welfare system, have experienced documented neglect, abuse and/or trauma, and who currently are engaged in tthe juvenile justice system.
Initiative's thesis: Juvenile justice systems can better meet their public safety and rehabilitative goals by ensuring their most vulnerable youth achieve the behavioral and physical/mental health, academic and pro-social outcomes associated with healthy transitions to adulthood.
In December 2011, the Sierra Health Foundation board of directors approved a framework for a new youth development initiative, building on the recently concluded REACH Youth Development Program and incorporating findings from the reports Healthy Youth/Healthy Regions and Renewing Juvenile Justice. Common among these findings was a serious concern for young people at the margins of society. These youth are more likely to experience disproportionately poor education, employment, social and, ultimately, health outcomes. These youth are likely to be of color, live in communities that have high rates of poverty, have experienced violence or other forms of trauma, often are engaged in systems such as child welfare and/or juvenile justice and are more likely to attend alternative school settings.
In response, the foundation pursued a course of inquiry that sought to combine on-the-ground experience and research to design a program for crossover youth.