“I want to use my experience to help to bring about change and support those who are struggling with their parent’s incarceration.”
- Xavier Phifer, YAC member
Who We Are
The Youth Action Council (YAC) is a diverse group of youth ambassadors ages 15 to 18, who raise awareness about the effects of parental incarceration through youth-led advocacy rooted in their personal experiences. The YAC serves as an essential advisory resource to decision makers. Most importantly, members get to speak up about and help to shape policies that affect their everyday lives.
We envision a world in which fewer children experience parental incarceration, and those who do have their needs considered and safeguarded at every step of the criminal justice process. The YAC’s mission is to raise awareness about the impact of parental incarceration on children, and create positive changes in the criminal justice system in order to improve the lives of the many children affected by their parent’s criminal justice involvement.
What We Offer
The YAC is an afterschool program (28 sessions) for youth who have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. The YAC focuses on the following components:
- Leadership Development: Over the course of the program, members receive a safe space for self-expression, leadership training and advocacy workshops to help them achieve their professional and personal goals.
- Advocacy: Members identify pressing issues facing children of incarcerated parents (witnessing a parent’s arrest and experiences with visiting a parent), develop advocacy skills in order to influence change and use those new skills to present policy recommendations to State Legislators.
- Raise Awareness: Members have the opportunity to speak to the media, on panels and with public officials to share a “youth's eye view” on topics that directly affect them. Members plan and participate in the annual “Ride for Rights” bike-a-thon to raise awareness about the experiences and rights of children with an incarcerated parent.
- Activities: The YAC hosts a variety of activities like: Youth meet-ups, achievement celebrations, outreach/community services, special events, and more.
Youth between the ages of 15 and 18 years old are eligible to join the Youth Action Council if their parent is, or has been, incarcerated. Members must also be committed, motivated, and interested in developing their leadership skills and advocating for change.
Expectations of YAC members include:
- Public speaking: YAC members must be willing to take risks, speak in front of other people, and accept feedback from peers.
- Sharing your story: YAC members must be willing to write about their experiences (with assistance) and be able to accept constructive criticism.
- Commitment: YAC members must attend regular meetings and demonstrate meaningful participation. The YAC lasts from November to May and meetings are 2 hours in length. Members must occasionally attend additional events/projects as created.
- Engagement: YAC members must stay in good academic standing and further their education or be in the process of pursuing work/career.
- Advocate: YAC members should be excited about raising awareness and participating in activities consistent with implementing the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights.
- Represent: YAC members are expected to maintain the role of a “leader” during all YAC related events.
For more information about the YAC, to join, or to refer potential youth for membership, contact: