L.A. Law School Wins $1 Million Grant to Help Crossover Youth

A Los Angeles law school has been awarded $1 million to advocate for the needs of Los Angeles County “crossover youth,” youngsters caught up in both the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

The Everychild Foundation is giving the money to the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy (CJLP) at Loyola Law School to launch the “Everychild Integrated Educational and Legal Advocacy Project.”

The project will center on supporting the needs of crossover youth in court as well as in school.

According to a press release, one of the goals of the new investment will be to boost graduation rates for children involved with both systems.

“Crossover children require a strong advocate to assure them the services and opportunities to which they are entitled, but most often denied,” said Jacqueline Caster, founder and president of the Everychild Foundation, in the press release. “Without this support, they are invariably pushed further along the proverbial ‘Pipeline to Adult Prison.’”

A 2011 report on crossover youth in L.A. County found that many struggled to pursue higher education. Crossover youth were also three times more likely to land in jail than other foster youth, and twice as likely to have received treatment for a serious mental health issue.

Earlier this year, a research brief found that 83 percent youth exiting an out-of-home placement in the county’s juvenile justice system had also been referred to child protective services at least once. Nearly 40 percent had been confirmed victims of child maltreatment.

The project will train 36 law students to work with crossover youth over three years. CJLP lawyers and  Loyola Law School students will advocate for about 300 crossover youth in the county’s education and court systems, and will help link them to resources at Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park. The Everychild Integrated Educational and Legal Advocacy Project also hopes to gather best practices from the program and share them with other youth advocates across the country.

The Los Angeles-based Everychild Foundation has a history of funding other endeavors aimed at children in the county’s juvenile justice and foster care systems. In recent years, the philanthropy based on a giving circle model has funded a juvenile diversion program using restorative justice practices and an effort to support adoptive families and legal guardians, among other grants aimed at helping vulnerable children.

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