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Family Engagement is Crucial

Posted in 2015, Take Action Now Friday, 01 May 2015

By Kay Xiao, CFYJ Intern

At the Campaign for Youth Justice, we recognize that  affected communities are at the heart and center of any successful reform effort. This includes the families of young people  tried as adults. Families are oftentimes the most vocal and powerful advocates of youth justice and are instrumental in transforming the justice system. Their personal experiences not only help to bring an urgency and expertise to reform efforts, but also provide rich and detailed information as to ways systems can be strengthened to support families.

The input of families is crucial to creating legislative change.  Families who engage in legislative reform are incredibly courageous—they share share their personal stories with the policy makers and the public,  opening themselves up to potential public scrutiny for the advancement of  the greater good.  More importantly, families remind us that children prosecuted as adults are more than the worst thing they have ever done—they are sons, daughters, siblings, students, athletes, community leaders, authors, and so much more. This is why CFYJ believes in engaging with families and youth to take action at state and national levels through public awareness campaigns that result in legislative action.

CFYJ works with families and youth to:

Convene families and youth in leadership, community organizing, and media trainings 

  • Develop and train those who are interested in becoming CFYJ spokespeople 
  • Provide materials to families who are interested in sharing their stories with the media and other sources.Identify opportunities for youth and families to participate in national meetings and conferences. 
  • Identify opportunities for youth and families to participate and testify in Capitol Hill briefings and hearings in their own state. 
  • Coordinate meetings of families and youth with policy makers and federal government agency leaders to discuss family engagement, educate policy leaders on the issue, and create solutions to end the practice of processing youth in the adult criminal justice system. 
  • Provide a comprehensive Family Resource Guide to assist families who have a child who is at-risk or is currently being processed in the criminal justice system. 
  • Support Youth Justice Awareness Month events in states.

In order to better understand the issue at hand and offer recommendations for change, we need to hear about the experiences of those most affected by the current system. Share your story or provide a testimonial and learn more about the family engagement and partnership practices in the justice system.