California Youth Connection was founded in 1988 by a group of foster youth and supportive adults to provide a vehicle for California foster youth to learn leadership and advocacy skills and to engage directly with policymakers to improve the foster care system. Founded on the model of youth empowerment, CYC maintains a dual focus on policy and youth development.
CYC is the only organization in California to engage foster youth in the policy making process. Our foster youth leaders have created a fundamental paradigm shift in child welfare policy in California, ensuring that foster youth are at the center of child welfare policymaking for the first time in history. They are full partners at the policy table, their priorities are shaping reform, and the rate of reform is rapidly increasing.
There are more than 50,000 children throughout California who are temporarily housed in private homes, group homes, or institutions. Many children are moved between residences three to five times throughout their stay in foster care, and over half are separated from their siblings. This instability has led to 55% of foster youth not completing their high school education, 25% percent becoming incarcerated within the first two years after leaving the system, and one in three becoming homeless.
Each year, CYC engages more than 500 current and former foster youth members, ages 14-24, through 32 county-based chapters throughout the state. CYC believes in empowering (link to mission) our youth to be strong advocates for themselves, and strong advocates to improve the system for future generations. Core CYC activities include:
• State & Local Advocacy
• Training & Sharing of Best Practices
• Youth Development & Leadership
• Outreach & Community Education
CYC has a 25-year track record of policy accomplishments (link), has trained advocates in over 12 states, and has set a new national standard others are eager to emulate. With a staff of 17 and a budget of $2.2M, CYC is headquartered in San Francisco with satellite offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno.