In recent news…

Read NationSwell’s article about Joshua Dohan and the transformation of juvenile justice in MA!

The Impressive Top-to-Bottom Makeover of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System:
Why the state started asking what resources, opportunities, services or supports do youth offenders need in order to be able to behave better instead of viewing them as “super-predators” needed to be taken off the streets.

Click here to check out the article!

And of course…

Save the Date for the Youth Advocacy Foundation’s 16th Annual Spring Celebration!

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Boston Children’s Museum
308 Congress St. Boston MA 02210
Thank you…
We had an incredibly successful annual appeal! Thanks to generous donations from supporters like you, we have raised over $65,000–enough to fund an EdLaw Project attorney for one year! This will increase our capacity to deliver trainings and professional development for lawyers  state-wide  working with vulnerable children to have their education needs met.

Thank you for your continued support. Together, we are shutting down the School-to-Prison Pipeline.


YAF’s 16th annual celebration is set!

Thursday, May 11th from 6-8 PM at Boston Children’s Museum

More information coming soon!

Thank you for contributing to the success of our 15th Anniversary Spring Celebration!

We can’t believe it’s already been fifteen years since the Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF) was established. In recognition of the progress that has been made in the juvenile justice system and in stemming the school-to-prison-pipeline, we gathered on May 5, 2016 to celebrate our progress and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring all youth have the support to become healthy, contributing members of society.

Over 300 supporters, advocates, and members of the community joined us for our landmark celebration at the Boston Children’s Museum. Everyone, including our hosts at the Children’s Museum, was gracious about the last minute need to move our event to a smaller space on the second floor due to unplanned repairs in the museum lobby.

In addition to commemorating our fifteen years of supporting advocacy for young people, we also celebrated our three honorees: Joseph L. Kociubes, Robert “Bob” McDonnell (both from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius), and RFK Children’s Action Corps’ Detention Diversion Advocacy Program. We would like to thank the YAF Board of Directors and our 2016 Event Host Committee, in particular our event co-chairs, Minnie Baylor-Henry and Lisa Rechtschaffen, for their hard work and dedication in planning this event. A special thank you to event Emcee Karen Holmes Ward and special guest Malikka Williams, who spoke about the EdLaw Project’s meaningful work on behalf of her five-year-old son.

Since YAF’s founding, we have diligently worked to reduce the flow of cases brought to juvenile court as well as the number of children being sentenced to adult prison. We like to think that our work contributed to the 70% reduction in DYS commitments from its peak five years ago. We are proud that Massachusetts now has one of the lowest juvenile incarceration rates in the country.

Where do we go from here?

While our juvenile incarceration rates are low by national standards, our rates of racial and ethnic disparity in sentencing and incarceration are still among the worst in the country. We must not be complacent in overlooking the existence of such disparities. Our work enables the dedicated staff and private assigned counsel of the Youth Advocacy Division to be ever more effective in waging the battles that remain. We hope you will continue to stand with us as we fight for a fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system.

We would like to offer our utmost gratitude to all those who have supported YAF and Massachusetts youth over the years. If you are interested in making a contribution to the Youth Advocacy Foundation, please click here or contact us at or 617-910-5840.

Also, please check out our facebook page for pictures from the event!
Josh Dohan
Youth Advocacy Foundation

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Happy Thanksgiving

Here at the Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF), what seems like an ordinary, common day can easily be transformed into a day of thanksgiving. The success story of Jimmy is just one of many where the EdLaw Project took an ordinary opportunity for many in the United States (education) and turned it into a blessing.

Jimmy is an 11-year-old Latino boy in sixth grade with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a history of multiple hospitalizations.  Jimmy lives in a poor working-class community northwest of Boston.  Although Jimmy was receiving special education services for his disability, the school often isolated and punished him for behavior that he was not able to control.  The culminating event was an arrest for “Disturbing School Assembly” when he had a psychiatric event during school.  His delinquency attorney referred Jimmy to the EdLaw Project. EdLaw advocated for enhanced services at the school level to more appropriately address Jimmy’s needs.  Through her advocacy, Jimmy was able to receive an out-of-district placement in a private therapeutic day school where he is thriving.  As a result of the change in his education situation, all charges against him in juvenile court were dismissed. 

What makes today a day of giving thanks for you?



This year, after you’ve given thanks, gotten your door buster deals, surfed for cyber bargains, and finished all of the leftovers, try something new!

#GivingTuesday is a new day for giving back that celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

Your support will help us stop the “school to prison pipeline” through initiatives, such as the EdLaw Project. The “school to prison pipeline” refers to the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education. For our #GivingTuesday Campaign, we are asking for you to give what you can to help fund legal pro bono and other forms of community support to vigorously defend the rights and promote the well-being of court involved children, and help them grow into healthy and productive members of our society.

Donate now to stop the #schooltoprisonpipeline through #GivingTuesday


Click for more information

YAF's 16th Annual Celebration

Thursday, May 11th from 6-8 PM
Boston Children's Museum
Find out more here

RSVP here