Dear Friends of Youth, Rights & Justice,

At YRJ, we are grateful for the incredible community support we have received this year through our first Justice Luncheon, our 9th Annual Gala, and now, our year-end campaign through Willamette Week’s Give!Guide . Thank you to everyone who has supported our work in 2017!

This year has brought with it mixed emotions, between state budget shortfalls and national policy changes. Here at YRJ, we are dedicated more than ever to ensure that Oregon continues to be a leader in progressive and innovative policies for our children. 

In 2018 and 2019, policy makers will make difficult decisions on budgets and policies that affect children across the state. YRJ will be in Salem advocating to put children's needs first and to support Oregon families who face difficult challenges.

This year, YRJ marked the 15th Anniversary of our innovative SchoolWorks program . Oregon has helped lead the way in changing the national conversation about foster children and their education by passing one of the earliest state laws promoting school stability in 2005. Congress subsequently passed several laws to make improvements. In 2017, Oregon took a great new step to make school stability the norm and the standard for children in foster care across the state. SB 20, a new law which we worked on in collaboration with the Oregon Departments of Education and Human Services, helps to ensure that children in foster care will stay in their home school and district unless the court finds it is in the child’s best interests to move. 

In 2017, we also helped pass laws in Oregon to:
  • Prevent juveniles facing felony and misdemeanor charges from waiving their Constitutional right to an attorney (which was happening far too frequently in some counties) (HB 2616)
  • Strictly limit the shackling of youth during their juvenile court hearings (SB 846)
  • Prohibit the use of isolation (solitary confinement) as a form of punishment in state youth correctional facilities. (SB 82)

In 2017, our attorneys and advocates have continued to win victories big and small for individual clients and for children across the state. They work tirelessly every day to make sure that children have a home that is safe and nurturing, to ensure that youth have the right to due process under the law, to keep them in school, and to ensure that services, supports and interventions do more good and less harm.

I am always happy to discuss our mission more in-depth over lunch or coffee, or perhaps I will see you at one of our 2018 events.