LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn (file photo)

Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl recommended creating a permanent Youth Advisory Body to give young people a voice in the creation and implementation of County policy matters that impact them.

“Young people must have a seat at the table – whether we are reshaping our probation system, improving opportunities for foster youth, or improving access to mental healthcare at our schools,” said Board Chair Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Young people with lived experience are the best possible advocates for their peers.  A Youth Advisory Body would finally allow us to elevate their voices and incorporate their ideas and feedback into our efforts in a consistent and long-term way.”

There are numerous organizations and advocates that work on behalf of young people involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems in Los Angeles County. Many of them have established forums for these young people to be heard. However, the County does not yet have a formal and institutionalized youth advisory body for these young people to help shape County initiatives and policies that impact them.

“I am happy to support this motion which will explore the creation of a permanent Youth Advisory Board to provide input in every program that involves County young people,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “If we are developing programs for youth, youth must be at the table.  It’s so important that our policy solutions be created with, not just for, youth.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn credited her commissioner to the Commission on Children and Families, Tiffany Boyd, for being the inspiration behind the Youth Advisory Body proposal. Boyd, a resident of Long Beach, is a long-time advocate for foster youth as well as a former foster youth herself.

“It is both an honor and a privilege to be presenting this motion to the Board today,” said Tiffany Boyd, who testified at today’s meeting. “As a Commissioner I am excited to support this motion to the supervisors because I know how important this is. As a foster youth I am thrilled to see how far we have come and humbled to see the support that we received today. This has been a long time coming and I am thankful to be a part of the County of Los Angeles paving the way and setting the standard of what it looks like to support the foster youth community.”

The proposed “Youth Advisory Body” would be comprised of young people who have been part of the juvenile justice or child welfare system, including those who represent marginalized populations such as LGBTQ youth, and they would be tasked with providing valuable insight to the Board of Supervisors, County departments, relevant community-based organizations, and other stakeholders on how to improve our County’s policies and programs for youth and families.

The Board voted unanimously to pass today’s motion. The Department of Children and Family Services will work in consultation with the Probation Department, the Office of Child Protection, the Office of Diversion and Re-Entry, the Departments of Mental Health, Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services and Health Services, the Center for Strategic Partnerships, key organizations serving foster and probation youth, current and former foster and probation youth, and other relevant stakeholders and report back in 120 days on the feasibility of establishing a permanent “Youth Advisory Body” in Los Angeles County. Their report back will include a recommendation as to where the body should be housed in the County as well as recommendations from County Counsel as to how best to compensate youth for any work they do for the County as a part of this body.