The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is proud to support youth advocacy organizations for young people receiving services through its divisions.
Youth Advisory Boards
The Department of Children and Families has created 12 Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) hosted by provider agencies throughout the state. The main purpose of the YABs is to provide feedback on adolescent programs and policies to DCF. The YABs provide a non-clinical, youth-directed forum that empowers homeless youth and youth transitioning out of foster care to become effective advocates for themselves and others. YAB members enhance their advocacy skills through public speaking, legislative advocacy, and planning community service and recreational events.
For more information, contact your contact your local Youth Advisory Board
The Division of Child Behavioral Health Services supports similar advocacy and peer leadership groups for young people who identify as having mental health challenges and/or receive services through DCBHS. They are sponsored by their local Family Support Organizations in each county/region. The FSO contact information can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/behavioral/help/family.html.
Outreach to At-Risk Youth (OTARY)
The OTARY program is designed to prevent crime/juvenile delinquency and deter gang involvement by providing enhanced recreation, vocational, educational, outreach and/or supportive services to youth ages 13 to 18, with the option to serve youth until age 21. The programs are located in communities with demonstrated high crime and gang violence. These programs have a proven track record of making a difference in the lives of youth, including "at-risk" youth. The programs are open to youth regardless of their involvement with DCF.
Click here for a list of locations and contact information.