Statewide Youth Advisory Board
The mission of the Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) is to educate, advocate for and empower all youth in care.
There are four Regional Youth Advisory Boards throughout Illinois covering the Cook, northern, central and southern regions. RYAB meetings are held monthly and are convened by regional youth board leaders. Youth between the ages of 14-21 are encouraged to attend. All members and guests participate in educational workshops each month surrounding youth leadership development with support from adult partners. These workshops are designed to prepare youth to become advocates for transformative change and give them tools they will carry into adulthood.
Meetings also provide a private forum for young people in care to address concerns, receive free and valuable resources, hear about changes within the department and gain access to opportunities to learn more about policies and procedures that are relevant to them.
The Youth Advisory Board provides a wide range of opportunities for young people, including: RYAB officer positions, internships, Youth Advisory Affinity Group (YAAG) ambassadorship and more!
Regional participation and the opportunities mentioned above are all incentivized. YAB membership looks great on resumes, job applications and college/scholarship applications. Above all, youth have an opportunity to use their journey to make a positive impact on the lives of other youth in care!
The Cook County Regional Youth Advisory Board meetings are held every third Thursday of the month from 6-8 p.m. at the DCFS field office located at 1911 S. Indiana, Chicago, IL.
The Northern Regional Youth Advisory Board meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month from 6-8 p.m. at the DCFS field office located at 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL.
To RSVP for Cook or Northern regions, or for more information, please contact:
800-805-2505 or Crystal@bestrongfamilies.net
The Southern Regional Youth Advisory Board meetings are held every second Tuesday of the month from 6-8 p.m. at the DCFS field office located at 321 A Withers Dr., Mt. Vernon, IL.
The Central Regional Youth Advisory Board meetings are held every second Wednesday of the month from 6-8 p.m. at The Family Advocacy Center, 310 W. Church St., STE 103, Champaign, IL.
To RSVP for Central or Southern regions, or for more information, please contact:
800-805-2505 or Jamika@bestrongfamilies.net.
Please note: The Youth Advisory Board will continue to offer youth with geographic transportation barriers the ability to participate in meetings online. For more information about online meetings please contact one of the YAB staff listed above.
Youth Advisory Affinity Groups (YAAG)
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) are committed to creating a caring and supportive environment for all youth in care regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, language, handicap/disability, religion or authentic self as a part of their mission to educate, advocate for and empower youth in care across Illinois. The Youth Advisory Affinity Groups have been formed to give voice to the diversity, equity and inclusion concerns that Illinois youth in care experience statewide through support, education, coaching and advocacy.
The Statewide Youth Advisory Board invites youth in care ages 14-21 to join one of the established YAAG groups to provide feedback on service delivery, programs and policies for the department's multifaceted communities. Youth are encouraged to contribute to the change they want to see by sharing their voice, perspective and experience within one or many of the YAAGs. As an extension of the Youth Advisory Board, these affinity groups will:
- Identify the greatest issues and challenges for youth in care related to racial and gender bias, disparity and equity.
- Propose recommendations and produce a collaborative project that will help with system improvements that promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Collaborate with diversity, equity and inclusion professionals and DCFS staff to improve services, programs, policies and the experiences of youth in care.
- Participate in specialized training sessions to gain knowledge and skills on leading diversity, equity and inclusion practices.
The established affinity groups are: LGBTQI+, Latino, African American, Native American and Asian American. The meeting schedule is as follows:
- Native American YAAG: Third Wednesday of every month from 5-6 p.m.
- Asian American YAAG: Fourth Monday of every month from 5-6 p.m.
- Latino YAAG: Fourth Tuesday of every month from 5-6:30 p.m.
- African American YAAG: Fourth Wednesday of every month from 5-6 p.m.
- LGBTQI+ YAAG: Fourth Thursday of every month from 5-6:30 p.m.
All meetings take place virtually via the online platform Zoom.
If you are interested in learning more about the Youth Advisory Affinity Groups, please contact Alyssa Del Angel at 800-805-2505 or Alyssa@bestrongfamilies.net