Been there, done that, but still struggling?
Do yourself a favor and check out "An Advocate’s Guide to Meaningful Family Partnerships: Tips from the Field," from the National Juvenile Justice Network.
Based on interviews with 26 advocacy organizations and in-depth interviews with eight juvenile justice advocacy groups (both family-led and non-family-led), the guide is a great primer / refresher on what works when partnering with families.
You’ll find reminders about leveling the playing field so that professional advocates and family advocates can both contribute; the need to be frank about and work to address underrepresentation of people of color on the staff of advocacy organizations; and ways to help advocates celebrate their wins even when the legislative process falls short of their ultimate goals.
What’s one of the biggest barriers to recruiting family members as advocates for juvenile justice reform? Often, they begin their journey as advocates because they care intensely about their own child, sibling, or relation; they’re less interested in fighting for changes to the system on behalf of other people’s children.
Here, the NJJN guide once again provides useful tips. None of the solutions are likely to surprise you, but they’re often overlooked in my experience, especially when it comes to juvenile justice agencies seeking to give families voice.
In addition, you’ll also find capsule examples of organizations that have achieved success with recruiting family members, building their expertise, and benefiting from the ability of family advocates to push reform from outside the system: