History of CYSA

Connecticut Youth Services Association leads, strengthens and supports a unified network of Youth Service Bureaus dedicated to promoting the well-being of Connecticut’s youth and families.

The Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) has been an integral part of the Connecticut Youth Service Bureau system since its founding in 1972.

Many municipalities began creating Youth Service Bureaus in the late 1960s and early 1970s to address growing youth problems including crime, family crisis, school truancy and substance abuse. Often, a local tragedy would focus attention on the need for coordinated youth focused services. The small group of Youth Service Bureaus that existed joined forces to form CYSA as a first attempt at unifying YSBs into a statewide network. By 1975, the Connecticut Justice Commission (now the Justice Planning Division of the Office of Policy and Management) used funds from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to support the creation of forty additional Youth Service Bureaus. It was during this time that Youth Service Bureau regulations were created and Public Act No. 75-487, An Act Concerning the Establishment and Operation of Youth Services Systems within the State, was passed. With the passage of the Public Act, YSBs became a permanent part of the service delivery system for youth and families within the Department of Children and Youth Services (now DCF).

Since CYSA’s inception, YSBs have also been coordinating Juvenile Review Boards. Some of the earliest JRBs, including Enfield and East Hartford, are still operating today. The earliest Juvenile Review Boards in Connecticut were directly associated with the language contained in State Statute coinciding with the creation of community based Youth Service Bureaus (YSBs) offering diversion alternatives for at-risk youth. In 2005, the Connecticut Youth Services Association formed a statewide Juvenile Review Board Advisory Panel, which is presently chaired by two Youth Service Bureau Directors. Along with a staff member from the Chief State Attorney’s office, this advisory panel has assisted a broad range of urban, suburban and rural communities from across the state establish new Juvenile Review Boards. All Juvenile Review Boards play a critical role as a “service bridge” among families, police departments, school systems, juvenile court, human service departments, mental health delivery systems, and the Department of Children and Families.

Through the 1990s, YSBs continued to grow in number and scope. CYSA continued to advocate for increases in funding for existing and new YSBs, as well as promoting the increasing role that YSBs play in their communities. Positive Youth Development, bullying prevention and mentoring programs grew as many YSBs increased their funding through other grant sources and from their local municipalities. Several years ago, YSBs were able to secure additional funding in the form of “Enhancement Funds” through SDE for the support of programming as well. Funds are distributed based on population.

CYSA has also provided technical assistance and training to members focusing on mentoring new YSBs and their staff, the Administrative Core Unit and the use of Results Based Accountability. In 2005, CYSA piloted a new data collection system from NFocus, called KidTrax, to better quantify the impact YSBs have on youth and families in their community.

Since 2010, CYSA has been the lead agency for the Local Interagency Services Team (LIST) initiative. This initiative is a partnership between Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch and the Department of Children and Families, Bureau of Juvenile Services on behalf of the Joint Juvenile Justice Strategic Plan Executive Implementation Team. Their task is to "coordinate local stakeholders in raising awareness about the needs of children and youth involved in the juvenile justice system, as well as planning, evaluating, and supporting juvenile justice services in each juvenile court catchment area.” Twelve of the thirteen LISTs are facilitated or co-facilitated by YSBs.

Today, CYSA’s efforts continue throughout Connecticut on behalf of the 103 YSBs serving 137 towns. It remains as the professional organization that advocates for and works with members in order to continue to best serve youth and families across the state.