On May 12, 2010, CASES hosted a group of students from YouthAction NYC, a civic engagement and advocacy training program through Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc. for New York City high school students. To foster their advocacy skills, YouthAction students visit community organizations, meet with community leaders and elected officials, and formulate recommendations for change.
This spring, YouthAction focused on the issue of juvenile justice in New York. According to YouthAction Coordinator Matthew Salvatierra, in selecting sites to visit, YouthAction looked for organizations with “a successful record of utilizing innovative approaches to rehabilitating court-involved youth.” Mr. Salvatierra noted, “CASES was an obvious choice for us.”
Joseph McLaughlin, Director of CASES’ Court Employment Project (CEP), educated the young advocates about the juvenile justice system and explained the benefits of placing youth in alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) programs such as CEP. Mr. McLaughlin described the challenges court-involved youth face in securing employment and suggested a legislative change that would alleviate some of these challenges. CASES’ success in getting youth admitted to college was also highlighted. The visit concluded with a tour of the CEP facilities.
Following the visit, YouthAction students synthesized their research and shared their recommendations for change in a final presentation. As Mr. Salvatierra noted, “I hope that the YouthAction students can continue to see CASES as a resource in their larger advocacy efforts.”