2024 Legislative Wrap Up
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
2w ago
  The Oregon Legislature has wrapped up their 2024 legislative session. Despite the quick turnaround of the short session, the staff at Youth, Rights & Justice have been hard at work advocating for policy changes that will benefit our clients. One of the largest discussions during the session surrounded the Measure 110 reform package, HB 4002, which decriminalizes drug possession. The staff at YRJ, including Lisa Kay Williams and Christa Obold Eshleman, worked with lawmakers and our partners to address the bill’s impact on youth. Their efforts highlighted the work that needs to be do ..read more
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Staff Profile: Q & A with YRJ Staff Attorney Julie Sutton
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
7M ago
We sat down with Julie to discuss her experiences as a public defender with Youth, Rights & Justice over her nearly 20-year career here. Key takeaways include the relationships forged and rewarding work that keep her engaged and inspired at YRJ.   What motivated you to become a public defender?   I didn’t always plan to become a public defender. When I was in law school, I thought I wanted to do family law. I’ve always loved working with people. But in 2004 after school, I started with AmeriCorps on a helpline job that was funded at the Juvenile Rights Project [YRJ’s f ..read more
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YRJ Staff Attorney Michael Cebert in Multnomah Bar Association Publication
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
7M ago
  The Multnomah Bar Association’s publication, Multnomah Lawyer, recently highlighted the work of YRJ Staff Attorney Michael Cebert and his brother Mark. The article discusses how Michael and his brother were exposed to politics and activism early and encouraged by their parents and mentors to pursue advocacy in the benefit of others. “Given the history of the dependency system commonly working against people of color, Michael recognizes that this may be the first time his clients see another person of color in his position, and that carries an additional level of significance to what he ..read more
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SB 819 Ensures Further Protection for Oregon Students with Disabilities
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
8M ago
Staff Attorney Seth Lichenstein-Hill testifies before Oregon Legislature In a victory for Oregon public school students, Governor Kotek signed Senate Bill 819, which took effect July 13, 2023. The law prevents school districts from placing students with disabilities on abbreviated school days arbitrarily. School districts had been placing over 1,000 students with disabilities a year on shortened schedules. These students received fewer hours of instruction and educational services than their peers when they really needed more attention and care. SB 819 ends this practice. In the bill, the Legi ..read more
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YRJ Expands SchoolWorks with Early Intervention Program
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
8M ago
YRJ is expanding SchoolWorks to address a critical need in our community for educational advocacy in early childhood. The SchoolWorks Parent Advocacy for Student Success (PASS) program will serve BIPOC parents and guardians, providing them with legal representation in school settings to ensure their children are receiving the school services and support necessary for success. PASS will also provide community-based educational rights trainings to empower parents and community partners to advocate on behalf of the students in their lives. In 2021, YRJ staff attended a listening session organize ..read more
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Oregon Governor Signs Juvenile Expunction Reform Bill
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
8M ago
MULTNOMAH COUNTY – On June 1, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 519, which builds upon previous juvenile expunction reform efforts. On June 6 Governor Tina Kotek signed the bill, which Youth, Rights, and Justice championed with bipartisan support of many juvenile justice advocates, agencies, and district attorney offices. “This bill ensures Oregonians who made mistakes when they were teens have opportunities for jobs, housing, and education so they can be successful in adulthood. We are grateful to Sen. Dembrow for championing this important work,” stated YRJ Executive Director Heathe ..read more
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Youth, Rights & Justice Scores Major Victory for Oregon Foster Children
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
9M ago
On July 18, 2023 YRJ and the Oregon Law Center (OLC) scored a big win for Oregon’s foster children when U.S. District Judge Michael McShane found the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) in “substantial noncompliance” with a 2018 agreement to wind down the practice of “hoteling” children for whom the state claims it is otherwise unable to find adequate placement. In 2016, YRJ and the OLC filed a class action lawsuit against ODHS over the agency placing foster children in hotels and state offices, also known as “hoteling.” The case was settled in 2018, with the agency agreeing to decrease ..read more
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YRJ’s Holistic Approach
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
1y ago
One of YRJ’s Case Managers, Ivan Denizac Case managers have become an integral part of YRJ’s holistic approach to juvenile and family defense. The Parent Child Representation Program, a pilot program started in Multnomah County in 2020, provided funding to hire case managers. This multidisciplinary approach has been transformative to YRJ’s practice. Though clients receive legal advice and representation, it doesn’t always take care of all of their needs. This is where case managers come in: when clients need more support to meet court-ordered requirements or to successfully obtain a healthy ou ..read more
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Staff Profile: Celebrating 20 Years with YRJ!
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Katy Maloney
1y ago
  Legal Assistant DeWayne Charley is celebrating his 20th anniversary with Youth, Rights & Justice in November. In this interview, DeWayne reflects on his work as an advocate for children in foster care, and the issues that are still faced by children and families involved in the child welfare system.  You’ve been working with YRJ for 20 years, what first led you to this work?  I applied at YRJ while I was still under the employment of a private firm.  I didn’t realize there were organizations, programs, facilities and public information out there for this work. I didn ..read more
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YRJ Announces Major Expansion to SchoolWorks Program
Youth Rights Justice Blog
by Youth, Rights & Justice
1y ago
This year Youth, Rights & Justice received a three-year federal grant for over $700,000 to create the Youth Educational Supports (YES) program. This innovative  program provides educational advocacy and support for youth who are in Oregon Youth Authority custody and transitioning back to their community from a youth correctional facility or program. The YES team began to take on cases in the last several months, and is currently serving 11 clients, ranging in age from 16-25. This project expands YRJ’s existing SchoolWorks program by creating a team of experts to improve educational re ..read more
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