About the Genesee County Youth Bureau
What is the Youth Bureau?
The Genesee County Youth Bureau was established in 1971 as a part of county government that would plan, coordinate, and supplement activities of public, private, and religious agencies devoted to the welfare and protection of youth. The Bureau is responsible to the Chief Executive and funded, in part, by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
The Youth Bureau’s programs have grown and changed over the years, but its main purposes remain the same. It assists with the development and funding of programs that encourage positive youth development. These programs help motivate young people to develop a sense of responsibility and make a positive contribution to their communities.
Provision of Services
The Youth Board is an advisory body with youth, municipality, and human service representatives. These members are appointed by the Genesee County Legislature. The board is responsible for setting goals, establishing priorities, recommending funding allocations, and program monitoring and evaluation.The 40 Developmental Assets were established by the Search Institute as the positive experiences and qualities that can tremendously impact the life success a young person experiences. These assets are applicable to all youth from all walks of life.
The Youth Bureau has done asset studies twice in Genesee County. In the spring of 1999, 2,700 Genesee County youth were surveyed. Seventh and eighth graders were given the “America’s Promise; Search Institute Survey of Student Resources and Assets” survey; ninth, 10th, and 11th graders were given the “Search Institute Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors.” In the spring of 2003, the surveys were administered again to the same grades. The responses from both years were analyzed separately and comparatively. Reports have been complied for the participating districts and are available at the Youth Bureau.
The studies gauge four areas:
External Assets focus on positive experiences that children and young people receive from the people and social systems in their everyday lives. When these are provided by formal and informal systems within the community, they stimulate positive development in young people.
Thriving Indicators are attitudes and behaviors that demonstrate how successful a youth is in his/her everyday life.
Risk-taking Behaviors include alcohol, drug and tobacco use, suicide and truancy. The more assets a young person has, the less likely s/he will engage in these negative behaviors.
The NYS Office of Children and Family Services offered county governments an opportunity to participate in a demonstration project to establish an integrated planning process to improve outcomes for all children, youth and families in their communities. The joint proposal from Genesee and Orleans counties was one of 15 selected from more than 50 applicant counties. While the Genesee-Orleans Youth Bureau was chosen to lead this project, Department of Social Services officials are quick to caution us that young people are not the only focus of this initiative. The Integrated County Planning Grant is intended to impact on services for all segments of the population.
Through this effort, a broad cross section of youth, parents and interested neighbors will come together with leaders from all sectors to plan concrete local action strategies designed to enable all children, youth and families to acquire the developmental assets essential to becoming competent parents, workers, and citizens. This planning process will also address the critical needs of vulnerable and at-risk children, youth and families, whose circumstance or behavior requires special services or strategies.
The expectation is the development of a county planning process that is truly comprehensive: one that goes beyond coordination of professional services and programs to one that builds upon neighborhood networks and mobilizes public interest and involvement for all children youth and families.
Key concepts required in the process include utilization of New York State Touchstones, a planning framework developed by an interagency effort led by the Council on Children and Families. Touchstones established a set of mutual goals, objectives and outcomes measures that will bring an interagency focus to each agency's internal assessment of performance, the basic premise behind integrated planning.
Another key concept called for in this planning initiative requires a shift in thinking. Agencies will be asked to utilize a philosophy of building on strengths, asset development, rather than addressing problems. See Giving Kids What They Need to Succeed for more information on asset development.
The Planning Initiative is in full swing at this point, with Educational Resource Associates recently hired to facilitate the process. Educational Resource Associates is an independent management consulting organization that serves the public interest. Community forums, specific focus groups and needs/assets assessment are among the activities underway.
New York State has 105 county, town, city and village Youth Bureaus. This network has grown steadily since 1945 and now encompasses all 62 counties including New York City. Youth Bureaus support youth development programs that address community identified needs. Community members, local businesses, human service professionals, educators, clergy, parents and young people are all a part of the planning process.
Founded in 1971, the Association of New York State Youth Bureaus (ANYSYB) has over 200 members representing Youth Bureaus and Youth Boards; not-for-profit youth service organizations and municipalities throughout New York State. The mission of the Association is to promote the physical, emotional and social well being of youth and families in New York State through a unified, statewide network of youth service programs and professionals.
$10 for Youth Statewide Campaign
Again, we have experienced a cut and veto by the governor to the Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention (4.25%) funds and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (5.475%) funds for 2004 - 2005. The Senate and Assembly voted to re-store it back to the 2003 levels and now unless they act through a super-majority to re-instate their restoration of funding to 2003 levels, we will again be reducing the local level programming capabilities of the youth serving community across New York State. Yet, as we work to keep the 2004-2005 funding at the 2003 level, we also begin the campaign to ensure youth their needed resources at $10 per youth in 2005.
Many factors affect this request and dictate our mandate to ensure the strength of services the youth of New York State deserve. Local youth programs have experienced cuts over the past 13 years. The over five (5) million youth served today, up to age 21, have not seen a cost of living increase in their entire lifetimes. With these additional cuts, we will be at the same per capita rate for Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention as 1974 ($4.51). Please note that $4.50 in 1974 had the same buying power as $17.08 in 2004. The value of the $4.50 in 1974 is about 26% of the 2005 allocation in 2004 dollars.
Youth are just as deserving of the state fund as other sectors of our communities. The funding of youth programs is not the only funding that we can look at based on the end product:
Children spend more time out of school than in school. A variety of services are needed during these prime hours. Schools, while critically important, do not fill all or even most of the supports, services and opportunities needed to ensure youth are Ready by 21 (The Forum for Youth Investment, 2004).
Youth development is delinquency prevention, it is cost effective, and it is the right thing to do. Our youth deserve $10 for Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention programs in 2005.