Los Angeles County has launched a Department of Youth Development (DYD) with the goal of transforming the way county systems treat youth and invest in their development, well-being and safety.

“Youth justice is not simply about making sure we provide equitable alternatives to arrest and system involvement,” said Vincent Holmes, the DYD’s newly named interim director. “It also means ensuring that every young person in LA County has access to youth development and care-first opportunities they deserve.”

“Our Black and Brown youth continue to be disproportionately represented in our justice system that isn’t truly serving them,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “The Department of Youth Development is one of the tools we have to change this.”

County officials said roughly 80 percent of arrests or citations of minors are for alleged “status offenses,” like violating curfew, or involve alleged non-serious, non-violent misdemeanors or felonies that are legally eligible for referral to community-based diversion and development services.

Key elements of the DYD’s initial vision include expanding youth diversion and development programs to continue to reduce youth justice system involvement, building additional capacity for youth centers and youth development, and supporting credible messengers in schools and other youth-serving systems.

“Supporting our youth means reaching them with resources to help them thrive before they are ever at risk of coming in contact with the justice system, from mental health services to good-paying jobs when the time is right,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“We must help the youth in our system realize their full potential so they can be successfully integrated into our workplaces and communities,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “In order to holistically meet the needs of justice-involved youth, all our county departments must work together to equip them with every tool to succeed physically, academically, mentally and emotionally.”

For more information on the county’s new Department of Youth Development, visit dyd.lacounty.gov.

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