Spring 2022 - Child Policy Externs

office setting Kate Lodge and Jazmin Diaz
Jazmin Diaz - A Place 4 Me  

Jazmin Diaz completed her externship at the YWCA's A Place 4 Me, a non-profit organization that strives to prevent youth homelessness. It is not an actual place but a mission that all youth ages 14-26 will have a place to call home, especially those transitioning out of child welfare systems. AP4M is a part of a collective impact model of 30 partner organizations to work to implement local efforts to improve outcomes for these young people.

AP4M partners with young adults to lead and be a part of the decision-making that will affect youth. During her externship, Jazmin was under the supervision of the director Kate Lodge who invited her to attend, observe, and share her ideas at an array of community meetings with organizations working to combat the issue of youth homelessness. These include the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the homeless, Family Unification Program, and more. As a result, Jazmin learned how organizations collaborate to implement services and administer programs with a shared commitment to youth voice and leadership to create meaningful impact for change.

As her capstone project, Jazmin analyzed federal housing vouchers available to youth aging out of foster care. Through her externship, Jazmin gained valuable lessons on the importance of authentic youth leadership in advancing policy change. Jazmin shared that this experience will help her pursue her future goal of creating a non-profit that works to enable low socioeconomic students to attend higher education.

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice
Zoë Büki - Cuyahoga County Juvenile Courthouse

Zoë Büki completed her externship at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in the Probation Training and Quality Assurance (PTQA) department under the supervision of Kristin Bassett and Bridget Gibbons.  The PTQA unit incorporates best practices to ensure high-quality interventions and treatment in court programming. PTQA's mission aligns with the Reimagining Juvenile Justice movement, which focuses on positive youth development and addresses racial and ethnic disparities and cross-systems approaches, fostering positive family relationships and engaging youth to transform policies and practices.

Zoë participated in training for supervisors and investigative probation officers. In addition, she attended training on trauma-informed responses to youth that come in contact with the juvenile justice system and on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Zoë's capstone project involved researching literature on youth motivation and incentives and drafting a manual to help probation officers utilize a new incentive program with their youth. Zoë conducted a focus group consisting of probation officers and supervisors to hear their ideas about the incentive program and its viability and incorporate feedback she received from the staff at the court's Early Intervention and Diversion Center.  

Zoë gained valuable insight into the probation process for youth and was able to use her psychology background to research the adolescent brain's response to rewards versus punishment and its change in motivation during the transition from childhood to adulthood.  With a deeper understanding of the juvenile justice system, Zoë describes this externship experience as essential to her future career in juvenile justice social work.