We are delighted to introduce and welcome California Youth Connection (CYC) to the SV2 community! As winner of the February Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round, CYC will receive a one-year general operating support grant of $30,000.
California Youth Connection, led by Executive Director Haydée Cuza, empowers foster youth ages 14–24 to build leadership skills and forge supportive relationships while advocating for child welfare reforms that directly impact foster youths’ lives.
CYC was founded in 1988, a time when child welfare policies were developed without input from those most impacted. A bold group of foster youth, including CYC’s now Executive Director, decided to speak up; they convened their peers to educate policymakers and advocate for the needs of youth in care.
Over the last thirty years, CYC has grown to 42 chapters throughout California with over 900 youth members, and the organization has refined an effective and sophisticated system of youth-led policy development, securing the passage of dozens of laws, while helping implement local and statewide child welfare policies. Here are just a few of CYC’s legislative accomplishments:
- The Foster Youth Bill of Rights (developed by CYC)
- Foster youth have the option to remain in care up to age 21 and the opportunity to be covered by MediCal up to age 21
- Foster youth ages 16–24 have access to transitional housing
- Judges ensure that foster youth aging out of care have all of their documents in their possession, including birth certificates and social security cards, by utilizing a checklist
- Foster youth can contact the state foster care ombudsperson when they have concerns about their rights
- Youth in foster care have the right to visit their siblings
- More foster youth are prepared for college, with increased financial resources to attend and priority in securing student housing on campus
We are inspired by the ways in which CYC places youth voice at the center of policymaking, which has resulted in a significant shift in child welfare policy in California. We are excited to work with and learn from our newest Grantee partner!
To learn more, please visit CYC’s website and stay tuned for future updates about CYC’s work.