The idea of an Association of New York State Youth Courts was first proposed in 1999. A group of Youth Court staff and supporters felt that New York State Youth Courts needed a cohesive voice to forward this alternative juvenile justice program in the criminal justice system and provide support for all New York State Youth Courts.
At that time there wasn’t a unified voice for Youth Courts, many courts operated alone, without communication with the other youth courts in their area, let alone across the state. This group of Youth Court personnel felt that providing these Youth Courts with a means of connection with other courts, with information about how other courts operate, and with a platform where they can voice their concerns, questions, and ideas would provide a basis for creating and maintaining stronger individual Youth Courts and better services for the youth we all work with.
Through the hard work and dedication of many of the staff from the first 30 NYS Youth Courts and with help from state funding through the NYS Division of Criminal Justice System and the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, the Association of New York State Youth Courts was incorporated in 2001. From that point on, as they say, the rest is history.
The first undertaking of this fledgling Association was to put on the first New York State Youth Court Conference, “Raising the Bar,” that was held in Albany in 2003. The conference was a success, drawing nearly 300 youth and adult participants from across the state. The turnout rate and positive feedback gave the newly formed Association encouragement in their mission to unify and provide services for NYS Youth Courts.
To provide these services to the membership and to NYS Youth Courts in general, quarterly meetings are held at various locations across New York State; from the scenic and dramatic Niagara Falls, to the pastoral and charming city of Elmira, to the fast paced and exciting borough of the Bronx. All Youth Court directors and support staff are invited to attend each meeting, although the travel may sometimes be too difficult for some courts to manage. To this end, ANYSYC was able to secure federal dollars through the Department of Justice that is being used to offset travel costs and make attending ANYSYC meetings easier than ever. Please click here for more information regarding quarterly meetings and travel stipends.
ANYSYC has also instituted a Regional Representation program that provides seven regions of the state with a dedicated representative who has been charged with attending quarterly meetings and reporting back to the Youth Courts in their area regarding ANYSYC business. Click here for more information regarding regions and regional reps for your area.
ANYSYC representatives have also been active on the national stage, working closely with members of 19 other state associations in the development of a National Association of Youth Courts. Through this involvement on the national level and speaking with and learning about other state associations and how they operate, ANYSYC has been able to better serve the Youth Courts it represents. Training, funding, and new court start up information have been at the forefront of concerns of Youth Courts across the state, and ANYSYC is dedicated to help address these issues. For more information click here.
Presently, there are almost 70 Youth Courts in New York State and the Association traditionally counts about 60% as members. ANYSYC would love to see that number at 100%. There is strength in numbers, and there is no better way to connect with fellow Youth Court staff from across New York than through participation in the Association. Not only is it exciting to know that through your participation in the Association you can affect change at a local, state, and national level; your court gains state wide and national contacts, your court gains information that you can use to strengthen and improve your program, and you, personally will receive the support you need to know that you are not in this alone, that there are hundreds of people just like you, across this vast state, working to improve the lives of our youth. For more information regarding membership click here.