Training is a cornerstone of ensuring excellence in the treatment of youth in the juvenile legal system. The Gault Center organizes and delivers innovative trainings for defenders, court personnel, and other stakeholders to ensure children in the legal system have access to due process and are treated with fairness and respect.
Each fall, The Gault Center hosts the only national gathering and training for youth defenders and advocates. The Youth Defender Leadership Summit brings together hundreds of youth defense attorneys and advocates from every state, DC, and Puerto Rico, enabling them to participate in cutting-edge training workshops, develop and share strategies to better defend youth rights, learn from experts, and network and draw strength from their community.
Summit inspires and energizes youth defenders and advocates, who often face staggering caseloads, limited resources, and a juvenile legal system fraught with racial, ethnic, and other bias. Our goal each year is that defenders leave Summit with renewed courage to keep fighting, the knowledge they have a youth defense community standing firmly behind them, and a deeper understanding of the incredible importance of their work.
The Gault Center and our partners developed the Youth Defender Advocacy Program (YDAP, formerly known as JTIP: Juvenile Training Immersion Program), a highly specialized, comprehensive trial advocacy training program for youth defense attorneys.
The YDAP was developed to alter the landscape of youth defense by providing the foundation for high-quality, meaningful representation of youth. Intended to serve as the gold standard in youth defense training, YDAP is designed for use in any jurisdiction. The YDAP curriculum provides general law and trial skills, while also being easily customizable to incorporate key state and local statutes, court rules, and caselaw so that each lesson is directly relevant to individual jurisdictions.
The Gault Center and Certified YDAP Trainers partner with state and local defender agencies, bar associations, or other organizations to provide youth defense trainings from our 42-lesson curriculum that are tailored to meet the needs of the local audience. These trainings can be anything from a single lesson at a CLE program to an intensive multi-day training dedicated exclusively to youth defense.
Each summer, in partnership with Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative, we host Summer Academy, a weeklong intensive YDAP Training for 42 youth defenders selected from a national pool of applicants. The program, which covers both substantive law and trial skills, is crafted to fit the needs of both new and experienced youth defenders and is available by application only.
Trainers who are nominated by other leaders in the youth defense community may be invited to participate in a multi-day course on YDAP training techniques in order to become a Certified YDAP Trainer. This training covers issues such as adult learning theory, effective methods for delivering feedback, how to manage challenging or disruptive behaviors, matching media and activities to a variety of learning styles, and other presentation skills. Upon completion of the course, Certified YDAP Trainers may access the full YDAP Curriculum and are able to lead YDAP training sessions in their jurisdiction or around the country.
As defenders of young people, a critical piece of our work is advancing racial justice. Because the systems we work in exacerbate the disparate treatment of youth of color, The Gault Center and Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative have created a portfolio of tools and trainings to equip our community with the resources necessary to help eradicate racial injustice in the juvenile legal system.
IN 2021 the racial justice training series included a four-part program, delivered by The Gault Center and Georgetown JJI, is intended to provide youth defense professionals with the knowledge they need to advance racial justice as part of their work defending young people.
In 2022 the racial justice training series is a Chapter of the Month program with author and Professor Kris Henning focused on strengthening youth defense by using the content from each chapter in her book, The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth.
Whether for defenders, court personnel, or other stakeholders, The Gault Center is committed to providing quality training on issues and practice related to youth defense. The Gault Center can help with a variety of training needs by tailoring training sessions to fit the needs and interests of the participants and organizers.
The Gault Center staff are regularly called upon to speak at conferences and other meetings on a broad range of issues related to youth defense. Whether as a keynote speaker or leading breakout sessions on a variety of policy and practice topics, The Gault Center’s expert staff is dedicated to advancing the understanding of youth defense issues.