Creating Buy-in & Authority to Reimagine Youth Justice

July 7, 2022

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FUSE Corps

Youth interactions with the justice system cause life-long negative outcomes. The Los Angeles County government, steered by the Youth Justice Advisory Group (YJAG) and Alternatives to Incarceration Office (ATI), is working to transform from a punitive system to a youth development system that prioritizes trauma-responsive and community-based approaches to youth in crisis through the creation of a new Department of Youth Development (DYD). A FUSE Executive Fellow will assist DYD in developing a legislative framework and action plan to radically reform the County’s approach to youth justice. 

FELLOWSHIP DATES: July 25, 2022 – July 24, 2023

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion. 

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Historically, Los Angeles County youth who enter the justice system have been overseen by the Probation Department and the Chief Probation Officer. This carceral approach to youth justice has resulted in lasting, negative outcomes for even single-time offenders. For example, according to a County summary of evidence, “??A young person’s chances of not graduating high school are doubled by a first-time arrest and quadrupled by a first-time court appearance.” A trauma-responsive, community-based approach to youth engagement would help to reduce racial disparities in how youth engage with the justice system.

In 2020 and 2021, Los Angeles County convened the Youth Justice Work Group (YJWG) to “explore the transitioning of the Los Angeles County’s juvenile justice system out of the Probation Department into another agency, with the goal of creating a rehabilitative, health-focused and care-first system.” The group recommended the creation of a Department of Youth Development (DYD), tasked with collaborating across County stakeholders in government, community, and private sectors to divert youth away from the justice system and toward community-based organizations that adopt trauma-responsive approaches and provide supportive services appropriate to young people’s individual strengths, needs and experiences. 

In spite of local government support, additional legislation is required in order to move forward with this vision for DYD. Los Angeles County will partner with FUSE Corps to develop and implement a legislative agenda and action plan to provide the DYD with the legal authority, resources, to operate effectively and implement the Youth Justice Reimagined Initiative (YJR).The Fuse Executive Fellow will conduct research and craft a phased set of state-level and other policy priorities and a strategy to advocate for and advance the legislation to approval. In addition, they will develop an implementation plan for DYD to partner with a cross-sectoral set of stakeholders and sustainably advance the YJR agenda. This work will equip DYD with the legal mandate and resource infrastructure necessary to transform the County’s juvenile justice system from one that is punitive to a restorative holistic system of care.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Starting in July 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will rapidly build deep relationships with stakeholders that will be engaged in the DYD work including county government departments (e.g., Department of Child and Family Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Education, the LA County Library System, Probation Department), community (e.g., youth and community individuals and organizations involved in the Youth Justice Advisory Group and Legislative Strategy working group) and private sector partners (e.g., philanthropic partners involved in the Youth Justice Funders Collaborative). The Executive Fellow will build an understanding of the partnership opportunities, resources available, staffing issues, policy gaps, and communications or engagement best practices that must be addressed in order to empower DYD to advance its youth justice goals. In particular, the Executive Fellow will build an understanding of existing best practices that enable youth development and diversion from the juvenile justice system, informed by other jurisdictions nationally and internationally. 

Next, in partnership with the County’s legislative services, the Executive Fellow will craft the necessary legislation for the State of California to grant the DYD the necessary authority to: implement its youth justice agenda; work with partners both in and out of government; and secure appropriate financial and staff resources to sustainably advance its mission. This legislative agenda will likely adopt a phased approach (i.e., not an omnibus bill), and should include stakeholder engagement and advocacy plans to advance legislation from drafting to final signature. This could include communications, media engagement, and advocacy efforts at state and local levels. 

Finally, having knowledge of the interconnected partnerships, resource streams, and authorities that enable DYD’s work, the Executive Fellow will equip DYD staff with a practical action plan to sustainably implement their work going forward. By July 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a stakeholder listening tour – Develop relationships with stakeholders in Los Angeles County and California state government, non-profits, and the private sector to understand the resources, constraints, partnership opportunities, potential threats, and legislative gaps affecting DYD’s work
  • Craft policy priorities – Based on listening tour insights and stakeholder engagement knowledge, knowledge of how legislation enables the creation of new departments, and DYD’s resource and staffing needs, draft the necessary summary and priority documents to enable the DYD to sustainably advance its youth justice goals
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Communications – Develop, socialize, and implement a plan to make “the business case” for DYD authority over YJR priorities, create buy-in from all stakeholders, managing potential detractors, discuss trade-offs, and advance the bill(s) from introduction to final signature in the California state legislature
  • Develop DYD Action Plan – Continue to develop a practical action plan for DYD staff to sustainably partner, engage stakeholders, and advance the Los Angeles County youth justice agenda going forward

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Vincent Holmes, Principal AnalystAlternatives to Incarceration Office, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office
  • Project Supervisor – Taylor Schooley, Senior Analyst – Alternatives to Incarceration Office, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in crafting complex legislative / policy priorities, stakeholder engagement, and communications (particularly within the context of California state government) is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.