Youth Justice Fellows’ Work Culminates in Systems Recommendations

May 27, 2021 | Evident Change

Deajah Nunn and Hayden Renato

As Evident Change’s first Youth Justice Fellows wrap up over nine months of work, they leave an indelible mark on the organization. Along with consulting on system-improvement projects across the country, Deajah Nunn and Hayden Renato took on several youth-led research projects. A set of seven recommendations to improve the child welfare and juvenile justice systems is one result of that research.

Nunn and Renato describe the recommendations as “a vision created by systems-impacted young adults to help prevent homelessness and disenfranchisement during and after care.” They are aimed at agencies and systems professionals and include the following.

  1. Improve access to data and information.
  2. Clarify terms and use common language.
  3. Redesign intake questions at juvenile hall.
  4. Expand services for transitional-age youth.
  5. Phase out group homes.
  6. Create responsive complaint procedures.
  7. Foster a probation and child welfare partnership.

More details for each of these recommendations can be found on a one-page handout aimed at those who work in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and those who care about youth affected by those systems.

Another resource—for former foster youth in California—was created by Nunn and highlighted in last month’s newsletter.

During a Zoom celebration of Nunn’s and Renato’s work with Evident Change, many staff members shared their appreciation for the youth advisors. “Thank you both for your powerful voices, work, and influence on me and our organization,” said one staff member. “I will do everything I can to carry your messages to the places I work to increase system attention to youth voice and needs.” Evident Change hopes to expand this program in the fall of 2021, working to center the voices of those with lived experience in efforts to create more just and equitable systems.