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Youth Justice at a Crossroad: The Intersection of Data, Policy, and Advocacy

Renowned Educator Dr. Edward Fergus to Deliver the Annual Kathryn Wasserman Davis Child Advocacy Lecture

[WESTCHESTER, NY] October 9, 2023 - Westchester Children’s Association is pleased to announce the 2023 Fall Advocacy Breakfast, titled “Youth Justice at a Crossroad: The Intersect of Data, Policy, and Advocacy.” This annual event will take place on October 11th, 2023, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel and Conference Center.

Advocacy Breakfast Focus: Westchester Children’s Association’s 2023 Fall Advocacy Breakfast will focus on the intersectionality of data, policy, and advocacy, highlighting the importance of “Solutions Not Suspensions.” This legislation aims to regulate suspensions to a last-resort response for student misbehavior, prioritizing alternative approaches that foster accountability and learning from mistakes. In New York, students lose hundreds of thousands of days in classrooms each year because of suspensions, often for normal youthful behavior. This disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx students, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ youth. Importantly, this bill would allow New York to take a big step away from the biased policies of the past. 

In the 2023 NYS legislative session Solutions Not Suspensions legislation obtained sponsorship and advanced with its drafted language. Regrettably, this bill faced challenges and was not officially recognized by the NYS government. Furthermore, two other crucial youth-justice-related legislative efforts, the Youth Justice and Opportunities Act and the Right to Remain Silent Youth Interrogation Bill, did not progress significantly during this legislative session.

As the demand for more comprehensive and effective youth justice legislation grows, the Westchester Children’s Association projects that 2024 will be a pivotal year for advocacy in this area. Therefore, the 2023 advocacy breakfast will emphasize the convergence of data, policy, and advocacy in driving more impactful legislative outcomes with specific regards to youth justice and the Solutions Not Suspensions legislation.

Distinguished guest speaker, Dr. Edward Fergus, Urban Education and Policy Professor at Rutgers University, will deliver a thought-provoking lecture on this subject, shedding light on ways to improve youth justice through a data-informed and policy-driven approach.

Expanding the Reach of Attendees: To ensure a comprehensive dialogue on youth justice, the Westchester Children’s Association is extending invitations to school officials, superintendents, and leaders of various youth-oriented extracurricular programs. Notable target groups for this event include School PTAs, Junior Leagues, and Youth Bureaus. “By bringing together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, the Advocacy Breakfast aims to foster collaboration and generate innovative solutions to address youth justice challenges,” stated Allison Lake, Executive Director of Westchester Children’s Association.

Impacted youth have been invited to attend the event. By showcasing authentic experiences and voices, the breakfast hopes to build empathy and encourage proactive advocacy for meaningful change.

Dr. Edward Fergus: Prior to joining Rutgers University, Dr. Edward Fergus was Associate Professor of Urban Education and Policy at Temple University and Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at New York University. Edward is a former high school social studies teacher, program evaluator, and community school program director. Dr. Fergus’ work is on the intersection of educational policy and outcomes with a specific focus on Black and Latino boys’ academic and social engagement outcomes, disproportionality in special education and suspensions, and school climate conditions. He has published more than four dozen articles, book chapters, evaluation reports, and five books including Skin Color and Identity Formation: Perceptions of Opportunity and Academic Orientation among Mexican and Puerto Rican Youth, co-editor of Invisible No More: Disenfranchisement of Latino Men and Boys co-author of Schooling For Resilience: Improving Trajectory of Black and Latino boys, co-editor of forthcoming book Boyhood and Masculinity Construction in the US, and Unpacking the Cultural Shopping Cart: The Cross-Cultural Lives to Challenge School Segregation.

Fergus has worked with over 120 school districts since 2004 on educational equity and school reform, specifically addressing disproportionality in special education and suspension. Fergus partners with state education departments and is an expert consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on Educational Opportunities (2014-2016), New York State Attorney General’s Office (2022), and NAACP Legal Defense Fund (2018).

Join Us in Advancing Youth Justice:The 2023 Fall Advocacy Breakfast promises to be a transformative event, bringing together key stakeholders, community leaders, and advocates who are committed to driving positive change in youth justice legislation. By combining data, policy, and the collective strength of advocacy efforts, we can pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future for our youth.

Admission to the event is $60. Register by October 7th

About Westchester Children’s Association

Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) is a multi-issue, child advocacy nonprofit that works to ensure that every child in Westchester is healthy, safe, and prepared for life’s challenges, regardless of race or zip code. Since 1914, WCA has been the leading independent voice for Westchester’s children by identifying their needs, making those needs known to the public, and ensuring those needs are met through advocacy and mobilization efforts. For more information about Westchester Children’s Association, visit their website at 


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