CALIFORNIA YOUTH CONNECTIONS Overview
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.
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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