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604 Mission St
9th Fl

San Francisco
California 94105

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Programs: California Youth Connection is an advocacy/youth leadership organization for foster youth. Founded in 1988 on the concept of youth empowerment and the principles of youth development, CYC trains foster youth as effective policy advocates, engages them in dialogues with policymakers, and provides ongoing opportunities for them to participate in the policy process. The organization is guided by current and former foster youth ages 14-24 in 24 county-based chapters throughout California with a total of 450 foster youth members. Current and former foster youth make up the majority of the program staff and Board, and 100% of the Advisory Board. Staff members in offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco, and adult supporters in each chapter, provide infrastructure that are key to CYC's success. Youth are also trained to educate the public about the unique needs of foster youth and speak at numerous venues nationally and produce a quarterly newsletter that is written by former foster youth.

Historically left out of the child welfare policy arena, foster youth never had the opportunity to speak out about their experiences in care before the founding of CYC. Likewise, policymakers never had been able to talk directly to the consumers of their child welfare services. CYC is the only vehicle for this important dialogue to occur and has been reshaping and informing policy for the last 19 years. California Youth Connection is the only organization of its type in California and in the country.

CYC was established in 1988 and modeled after the Canadian Youth in Care Network, an organization that featured strong localized efforts to organize foster youth to advocate for their rights. After several years of increasing youth participation in California, CYC opened a statewide office in 1995 to expand membership and improve communication and coordination among the local chapters. Since the statewide office opened, the number of CYC chapters has increased over 200%. This growth reflects the tremendous positive response to CYC around the state--from social services executives to legislators to the youth themselves.

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Terrific non-profit organization with a truly important goal: "To promote the participation of foster youth in policy development and legislative change to improve the foster care system, and strives to improve social work practice and child welfare policy." Consider that: - 20% of the US foster ... more »
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