Jennifer Rodriguez is currently a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center (YLC), a legal advocacy organization that has worked in 20 states over the last 30 years to protect children in the nation’s foster care and justice systems from abuse and neglect and to ensure that these children receive the support and services they need to become healthy, productive adults.
Rodriguez's current projects at YLC focus on changing child welfare policy and practice for infants and toddlers to meet their developmental needs, improving the quality of care for children and youth in foster care and increasing incarcerated parenting youth's access to their children. Just Beginning is an initiative through YLC efforts that focuses on children under six years of age.
Prior to joining the YLC, Jennifer was the Legislative and Policy Manager and a youth organizer for seven years for California Youth Connection, a nationally recognized foster youth advocacy organization. There she led policy efforts to make the child welfare system responsive to foster youth. Rodriguez's advocacy resulted in a number of major legislative accomplishments for California foster youth, including development of a foster youth bill of rights, creation of educational rights and services for foster youth, increased efforts for permanence and family connections for older youth, and improved transitional services and resources.
Rodriguez’s drive to improve the child welfare system comes from her personal experiences growing up in California’s foster care system and dealing with the impact of institutionalization, inappropriate mental health services and inadequate education support. On a daily basis Jennifer is reminded of the urgency to improve foster care, as she is the mother of two beautiful young children.