What’s Youth Action Justice Month?

October is Youth Action Justice Month (YJAM)! YJAM is cohosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ). This year, the theme of YJAM is “Justice is ____” and aims to provide “impacted youth, families and allies an opportunity to collectively imagine new possibilities for systems of support, healing and restorative justice.”

The Office of the Youth Ombudsperson has laid out a mission, vision, and race equity statement to guide our work and the values of this office. In these, we imagine what justice looks like. For us, Justice is when youth, families, and communities live in a world in which they have access to the resources necessary to ensure that they can thrive and experience ongoing stability in their lives, which are free from the systemic issues and barriers that lead to system involvement.

As an office, the OYO was established to act as a resource for youth and families navigating not only the juvenile justice system, but also the child welfare and behavioral health systems. Part of this work includes ensuring that youth and families are aware of their rights inside congregate care facilities so that they are empowered to advocate for themselves and identify allies they can report rights violations to. We hope that offering Know Your Rights trainings to youth in facilities will empower them to take ownership over their care and treatment, as well as know where to turn for help when their rights are being violated.

The OYO’s Know Your Rights trainings

The OYO was established by youth and allied advocates who called for an independent office to investigate complaints against congregate care facilities. Youth have the greatest insight into what is happening inside congregate care facilities each day, so ensuring that they know their rights and can recognize when their rights are being violated is essential to our work. Therefore, the OYO’s Know Your Rights trainings are designed to be presented to youth in these facilities and empower them with the knowledge of what their rights are, who the OYO is and how we can help, and what our investigatory processes look like. We also hope to be transparent to our community about what these trainings look like, so we have posted them here. We hope that they might be useful for any youth and families who wish to look through them, as well as youth advocates and allies who may wish to better understand youth rights.

We’ve made our Know Your Rights training guides available online here.

Other resources

Below we have included some other Know Your Rights guides, provider and compliance guidelines, and minor healthcare guides.

City of Philadelphia Youth Rights Guide

City of Philadelphia Youth Residential Placement Family Guide

Juvenile Law Center Know Your Rights Guide

Juvenile Law Center Court Card

ACLU-PA Minors’ Access to Health Care Reference Card

OMSHAS Consent to Mental Health Treatment for Minors

DHS Regulatory Compliance Guide

DBHIDS Child and Adolescent Inpatient Performance Standards

Use this form to request that OYO do a Know Your Rights training session with you.