California Office of Youth and Community Restoration to Partner with Sacramento Nonprofit to Support Youths ‘Involved’ in Justice System 

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By Riley Lehren-Chavez 

SACRAMENTO, CA The California Office of Youth and Community Restoration (OYCR) will be partnering with the Center at Sierra Health Foundation (CSHF) to support youths “involved” in the justice system, it was announced last week.

Sierra Health Foundation is a “private philanthropy that forges new paths to promote health, racial equity and racial justice in partnership with communities, organizations and leaders” according to the CSHF website.

The partnership is expected to be a major step forward for California youths, said the OYCR newsletter, which explained it will “build out community infrastructure and increase capacity at community-based organizations (CBOs) to better serve young people who are involved in the justice system – and better support their transition back to their communities”.

First steps in the partnership have begun, with OYCR stating it has already committed “$3 million over the next two years to invest in community organizations and reduce youth interactions with the justice system.”

Additionally, OYCR said it has laid out an overall funding and disbursement plan, with “OYCR   (providing) funding and the Center at Sierra Health Foundation (helping) identify CBOs’ capacity development needs, establish a process for determining which CBOs will receive technical assistance and funding, and evaluate the effectiveness of technical assistance projects in increasing CBO capacity and sustainability.”

The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and OYCR will also “help CBOs develop relationships with important partners and tap into additional funding sources.”

This joint venture, said OYCR, will be a major victory for the youth of California, because, “with the closure of the California Division of Juvenile Justice in June 2023, investing in community-based alternatives to incarceration is an increasingly important component of OYCR’s work to address the needs of youth who are justice-involved.”

 The OYCR added it intends for this partnership to offer “support (which) will help ensure justice-involved youth have access to quality programs in their community, create sustainable systems for healing, and set youth up for success.”

Judge Katherine Lucero (ret.), Director of the California Office of Youth and Community Restoration, argued, “Transforming the state’s youth justice system to one that prioritizes our children’s health and well-being requires substantial coordination and alignment between government and a diverse array of partners, especially our community-based organizations.

The former justice added, “This investment is a recognition of the key role these organizations play in supporting our young people with juvenile justice system involvement.”

“Research shows youth who are justice-involved are more successful when they remain connected to their families and communities.” said OYCR.

“This connection to the community results in lower recidivism rates and ensures youth are better prepared for their transition back into the community. Remaining in community also permits an ongoing engagement with community members and organizations that can participate in the healing process and robustly support the transition of young people back to community settings. CBOs are essential to that transition,” OYCR added.

About The Author

Riley Lehren-Chavez, originally from Los Angeles and the Coachella valley, is a senior at UC Berkeley double majoring in Political Science and Media Studies. She intends on pursing a career in news media/journalism. Riley enjoys cats, coffee, reading, and Tiramisu (her bearded dragon).

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