Youth Justice Board Toolkit
By Members of the Youth Justice Board
The Toolkit is modeled after the Youth Justice Board program, which is dedicated to bringing the voices of young people into policymaking. The Toolkit contains curriculum and other resources for schools, after-school programs, and not-for-profit organizations that are interested in engaging young people in local policy development.
The Youth Justice Board provides a vehicle for young people to become involved in local policy discourse. In six years of operation, Board members have published four substantive reports presenting recommendations about how policymakers and practitioners can better serve young people in their communities. These reports—based on the unique perspectives of teens whose daily lives are affected by juvenile justice and public safety policies that are often conceived without young people’s input—have led to significant changes in local policies and practices. This Toolkit is a comprehensive resource for organizations that would like to develop programs based on the Youth Justice Board model.
Specifically, this toolkit provides strategies and tools for how to:
- Select a relevant public policy issue;
- Recruit young people for the program;
- Evaluate and fund the program;
- Educate Board members to be effective researchers, writers, public speakers and advocates;
- Support Board members’ personal and professional development;
- Manage program data and information; and
- Build an alumni network.
The Toolkit provides a timeline and a set of practices, tools, lessons and procedures used by the Youth Justice Board. This is designed to be a flexible resource that can—and should—be adapted to meet the needs of other organizations. For example, the program can operate based on a shorter or longer timeline, or Board members may elect to create a final product other than a written report. Users also may choose to incorporate select session plans into an existing curriculum rather than following the model from start to finish.
The session plans contained in this Toolkit are merely a sample of what should be an ongoing process of debate, learning and engagement designed with the needs of Board members and organizational objectives in mind. The Toolkit is not intended to be static; Toolkit authors encourage and appreciate feedback. What works well? How can the program or session plans be strengthened? How have policymakers responded to the program? The Toolkit will be updated periodically to reflect feedback.