Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB)

The Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) is an all youth, quality assurance advisory board, which reports to the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services. The Statewide Youth Advisory Board is composed of the four elected officers from each of six regional boards, totaling 24 board members. Board members range in age from 14 to 21-years-old.

The SYAB in Illinois was started in 1994 with a contract from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The Board continued to demonstrate its commitment to youth in care of the State by submitting reports to the Director about their annual progress and began to meet annually with the Director.

The formation of the Regional Youth Advisory Boards resulted from statewide focus groups that were conducted in 1996. Youth Advisory Board members conducted these focus groups to determine if their peers were receiving adequate services from the Department of Children and Family Services.

Once the focus groups were completed, the Board submitted the report to the Director’s Office. This report generated the interest of the Director as well as many high-ranking IDCFS officials. They decided that regional boards were needed in order to capture the opinions of the youth who resided in regions of the state, but were not yet represented on the Statewide Board.

Board members set their own agendas and record their own minutes; members also work with appointment staff to complete project goals and tasks. Board members also participate in workshops and symposiums, as well as coordinate activities for statewide members. These board members form committees to discuss current DCFS policy; work with DCFS staff to help them understand how policies will affect wards; investigate new initiatives and make recommendations to the Director about the initiatives and policies.

Regional Youth Advisory Boards (RYAB)
The Regional Youth Advisory Boards are solely responsible for representing the needs of the youth in care in regions around the State of Illinois. There are six regional boards, which are located in Southern IL, Northern IL, Central IL and three areas of Cook County (South, North and Central Cook). The RYAB’s, like the SYAB’s, work with 14-21 year-olds.

Regional officers, the President, Vice-President, the Secretary and the Sergeant At Arms are elected by their peers and serve as the regional representatives during Statewide Youth Advisory Board meetings. The officers are responsible for reporting about any problems, special events or ideas their regional members and/or youth have about policies affecting youth in care of the state.

Regional Board members receive the same training their state counterparts receive, including learning Roberts Rules of Order to conduct meetings, setting agendas. taking minutes and facilitating monthly meetings. The board meetings are open to any youth who want to discuss issues or ask questions about IDCFS services. There are approximately 65 regional youth advisory board members.