Care or Criminalization?: BIPOC Youth in Foster Care

Ali Guajardo, Clay Wesley, Levette Morales & Kayla Martensen. Moderated by Isabella Restrepo
BIPOC Youth in Foster Care
Thu, Nov 04, 6:00 PM

The Foster Care system is often understood as a system of help for our most vulnerable populations, children and youth - this panel asks us to complicate this understanding to unpack the ways this system, embedded with carceral logics, impacts BIPOC youth. How can we shift our understanding of this system to center the needs of BIPOC youth? How can we understand the criminalization and pathologization of BIPOC youth within this long standing system? How can we think about the foster care system in relation to abolitionist discourse? Join the MCC for a discussion that explores the contemporary foster care systems impacts on BIPOC youth and the ways that youth practice resistance to this system of control. 


  • Ali Guajardo, LCSW (he/him) is a behavioral health consultant and clician at the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics where he specializes in transgender behavioral healthcare. With over six years experience serving Santa Barbara's BIPOC communities and as a former foster youth, Ali weaves experiential knowledge with clinical expertise to offer intersectional approaches to his practice. Ali is trained in DBT and EMDR and utilizes an eclectic, trauma informed approach in working with diverse communities. 
  • Clay Wesley.
  • Kayla Martensen - Kayla Marie Martensen (she/her) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois Chicago in the Criminology, Law and Justice department and an instructor at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches class related to punishment, race, gender and social justice. Her areas of interest include critical carceral studies, feminist abolition, prison abolition, gender violence and youth studies. Currently, Kayla’s research focuses on Latinx/a young women who experience incarceration in a variety of institutions, including juvenile detention centers. In a forthcoming publication, prison is not feminist, service is not liberation, Kayla highlights the theoretical framework of this current study by critiquing the expansion of carceral logic and practice into community agencies and ‘non-punitive’ residential placements. 
  • Levette Morales  is a Parent Partner with Casa Pacifica’s Wraparound program in Santa Barbara County. As a former foster youth, Levette has found a passion in utilizing their personal experience and knowledge to support parents and caregivers in gaining an increased understanding of systematic and interpersonal traumas and learning skills to support caring for high needs youth.
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