Policy Associate – Youth Justice

12 Sep, 2023


Policy Associate – Youth Justice

Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)
Los Angeles, CA

Position:         Policy Associate
Reports to:     Director of Youth Justice
Supervision:  N/A
Collaborate:   Policy Team
Salary Range:  $64,480 -$75,230

Organization Overview

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) envisions a nation where marginalized children flourish, leaders prioritize their well-being and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive. CDF’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities

We serve and advocate for the largest, most diverse generation in America: the 74 million children and youth under the age of 18 and 30 million young adults under the age of 25, with particular attention to those living in poverty and communities of color. CDF partners with policymakers, aligned organizations and funders in this service. The Children’s Defense Fund is the only national, multi-issue advocacy organization working at the intersection of child well-being and racial justice by wielding the moral authority of programmatic proximity and community organizing to inform public policy. For more information visit www.childrensdefense.org.

Position Summary

The primary responsibility of this position is to work to advance CDF’s vision for children by conducting research, data analysis, policy advocacy, communications, and outreach support to key campaigns focused on improving children’s well-being. The ideal candidate will have a successful track record of working to maximize state and national investments in children and leverage policies and programs that address. The Policy Associate will maintain and develop new strategic partnerships with impacted communities, key organizations and coalitions aligned with CDF’s priorities. The position requires regular travel to Sacramento, and periodic travel.

The ideal candidate will have a successful track record of advocacy, analyzing and understanding policy and the legislative and administrative process, with a demonstrated commitment to and passion for children’s issues with a strong emphasis on marginalized children and advancing racial equity and child well-being


Policy Development and Analysis

  • Work with Director of Youth Justice to develop, lead, and execute campaigns to advance youth justice, independently and in partnership with peer organizations.
  • Lead our advocacy, including serving on steering committees for City and State Campaigns
  • Serve as a thought-partner within the whole CDF organization on youth justice priorities
  • Analyze and respond to city and state policy initiatives, budgets, and reforms.
  • Conceive and create Draft white papers, fact sheets and other policy documents.
  • Develop and present testimony, public comment, and provide guidance to State and City policymakers related to youth justice.
  • Conduct policy research on youth justice.
  • Track city and statewide youth justice related initiatives and reforms.
  • Meet with senior leaders within agencies and systems, and law makers at the City and State level that we are seeking to influence.

Communication and Narrative

  • Direct and execute campaign strategies to advance youth justice, including planning and participating in rallies, press conferences, town halls, and forums with workgroups and coalitions.
  • Work with young people with lived expertise in these systems to impact the public narrative around youth justice.
  • Create external facing documents including press releases and other communications deliverables, as necessary.
  • Conceive and create new projects that may combine research, public narrative, and youth-led organizing work in youth justice.

Partnership and Coalition Work

  • Represent CDF on relevant workgroups and coalitions.
  • Conceive, develop, and lead participation in community-building events with other advocacy and direct service organizations, including rallies and direct actions, press conferences, forums, and town hall events.
  • Build and manage strategic relationships with relevant coalition partners, stakeholders, city and state government officials, and community partners.

Education And/Or Experience

  • Master’s degree in public policy, public administration, social work, a related field; OR juris doctor degree plus one year experience with social justice advocacy; OR a bachelor’s degree and 3+ years’ experience with social justice advocacy in one or more of CDF’s areas of interest.
  • Experience collaborating and partnering with young people.
  • Experience building and sustaining diverse stakeholder relationships necessary to achieving short- and long-term policy goals.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with the ways in which systems (i.e., education, youth justice, child welfare) interact and impact children and families
  • Familiarity with City and State legislative and budget process.
  • Life-long learner, committed to accountability and self-reflection


  • Represent CDF with maturity, demonstrate consistent sound judgement, build internal and external relationships with community stakeholders, allies, targets, and partners that spotlight or advance the mission of CDF.
  • Excellent writing, research, and analytical skills.
  • Make competent decisions and be accountable for resolution of any issues.
  • Ensure timely and independent completion of complex initiatives, quickly assess proposals and incidents identifying key risks and/or liabilities, all the while being proactive, and solution focused.
  • Lead and manage campaigns focused on education equity in partnership with peer organizations and within coalitions.
  • Analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate youth justice policy and practice, and work to develop responsive policy and advocacy.
  • Articulate and apply a racial justice analysis.
  • Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce, children, communities, and their families.
  • Participate in and contribute to the policy and legislative process at the City and State levels, with regards to youth justice

Personal Characteristics

  • A “get it done,” results-driven, proactive attitude, capable of working independently and under pressure, ability to take initiative, set priorities, efficiently and effectively organize work, and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Demonstrated history of collaborating and working directly with people, groups and impacted communities from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Orientation to and background of servant leadership.
  • Ability to serve as an advocate and exemplar for the vision, values, and mission of the Children’s Defense Fund.
  • Demonstrated strong relational skills.

Type of work environment associated with the job

  • Indoor and requires some travel.
  • We are committed to a healthy work-life balance. We are also committed to standing up for progress at times that occur outside of regular business hours, so this person will have to work weekends and evenings

Additional comments

Children’s Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, protected veteran status, economic status, or status as an individual with a disability. Consideration will be given to qualified candidates on an ongoing basis until the position is filled.

Salary commensurate with experience. Attractive benefits package.

A background check and/or pre-employment assessments will be performed in compliance with local, state, and federal law on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

Note: This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive list of all responsibilities required and does not restrict management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time.

Questions regarding the role or position description may be submitted to Human Resources at humanresources@childrensdefense.org.

Apply Now

Job posted: 2023-09-12