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Youth Leadership and Advocacy Resources

Click on the resource type you are interested in.

 New York State Youth Voice ~ National Youth Voice  ~ Information on Rights  ~ New York State Government ~ Self-Advocacy ~ Disability and Disclosure  ~ Transition Age Youth ~Youth Cultural Competence/Youth Development

New York State Youth Voice

Youth in Progress
The mission of the Youth In Progress is to enhance and advance the lives of today’s and tomorrow’s foster care youth by giving them a sense of self-responsibility. To do this, YIP pledges to educate everyone involved in the foster care system to the realities of this experience. We will accomplish this mission by listening to youth in care and by offering them guidance that will allow them to achieve success in their lives and to realize their full potential.

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National Youth Voice

CAFETY
The Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, Inc. (CAFETY) has primarily operated as a vehicle for youth and young adults who have had experience in institutional settings to have their stories told in public forums as well as a vehicle for these youth and young adults to provide support to peers in similar situations.

Kids as Self Advocates
KASA is a national, grassroots network of youth with disabilities and needs (and our friends), speaking out. We are leaders in our communities, and we help spread helpful, positive information among our peers to increase knowledge around various issues. Those issues include: living with disabilities and health care needs, health care transition issues, school, work, and many more. We also help health care professionals, policymakers and other adults in our communities understand what it is like to live our lives and we participate in discussions about how to help each other succeed.

The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth
The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth (NCLD/Y) serves as a national youth-led information, training, and resource center. NCLD/Y has a four-pronged focus on working on developing leaders, developing the capacity of centers for independent living to serve those leaders, the capacity of the staff working directly with the leaders, and supporting the cadre of youth with disabilities-related organizations.

Young People in Recovery (YPR)
The YPR national leadership team creates and cultivates local community-led chapters through grassroots organizing and training. Chapters support young people in or seeking recovery by empowering them to obtain stable employment, secure suitable housing, and explore continuing education. Chapters also advocate on the local and state levels for better accessibility of these services and other effective recovery resources.

Youth M.O.V.E.National
A youth-led national organization devoted to improving services and systems that support positive growth and development by uniting the voices of individuals who have lived experience in various systems including mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.

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INFORMATION ON RIGHTS

ADA Technical Assistance Program
Your comprehensive resource for information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible information technology, and more! The National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT) at the University of Washington serves to increase access to electronic and information technology for students and employees with disabilities by leading a nation-wide effort to incorporate accessibility into policies and practices in the nation’s classrooms, computer labs, libraries, offices, and everywhere else where information technology is used in education.

Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
The mission of the JudgeDavidL.BazelonCenter for Mental Health Law is to protect and advance the rights of adults and children who have mental disabilities. The Center envisions an America where people who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities exercise their own life choices and have access to the resources that enable them to participate fully in their communities.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
NICHCY serves the nation as a central source of information on:

  • disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth,
  • IDEA, which is the law authorizing special education,
  • No Child Left Behind (as it relates to children with disabilities), and
  • research-based information on effective educational practices.

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition
The National Youth Advocacy Coalition is a social justice organization that advocates for and with young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) in an effort to end discrimination against these youth and to ensure their physical and emotional well-being.

New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC)
They can provide information about local centers for Independent living in your area that can help you with advocacy services on benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Department of social services, all disabilities advocacy, ACCES-VR information and many others. NYSILC is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). Their Vision is a world where people with disabilities achieve equal opportunities in all aspects of society.

Youth @Work
Youth @Work, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) website for youth in the workforce. The EEOC’s goal is to eliminate illegal discrimination from the workplace for all workers. This website is designed to teach you about some of your rights and responsibilities as an employee. Be an informed employee – Know your real world rights and responsibilities!

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New York State Government

New York City and New York State Agencies:

Administration for Children’s Services (ACS): NYC Children’s Services is the City’s agency responsible for child welfare, juvenile justice and early care and education services dedicated to protecting, supporting and promoting the well being of our city’s children, youth and families each and every day. http://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/html/home/home.shtml

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACESS-VR): Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) offers access to a full range of employment and independent living services that may be needed by persons with disabilities through their lives. This can include transition services, vocational rehab, independent living and business services. ACCES-VR is a part of the New York State Education Department. http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/

Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES): Provides a number of education programs including special education and career/technical programs designed to meet student needs. http://capregboces.org/

Council on Children and Families (CCF): During its 30-year history, the Council on Children and Families (“The Council”) has served as a broker, innovator and change agent among the state’s health, education and human services agencies. The unique value of the Council is its ability to provide a comprehensive, cross-systems perspective critical for the development and implementation of strategies impacting the availability, accessibility and quality of services for children and families. http://ccf.ny.gov/

Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS): The Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry that allows anyone to research the status of an offender. http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/

Department of Health (DOH): The NYS Department of Health protects, improves and promotes the health, productivity and well being of all New Yorkers. http://www.health.ny.gov/

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH): The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is a department of the Government of New York City responsible for public health along with issuing birth certificates, dog licenses, and conducting restaurant inspection and enforcement. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/home/home.shtml

Department of Labor (DOL): To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. http://www.labor.ny.gov/home/

Department of Youth and Community Development (NYC DYCD): The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) was created in 1996 to provide the City of New York with high-quality youth and family programming. Our central task is administering available City, state, and federal funds to effective community-based organizations. DYCD is committed to building and expanding on partnerships that generate innovative and practical programs for youth, their families and communities. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dycd/html/home/home.shtml

Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC): The NYSDDPC is a Federally-funded, New York State Agency that operates under the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. For over forty years, we’ve been developing and funding innovative, disability-related projects which improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. http://ddpc.ny.gov/

Justice Center: The Justice Center was created in legislation known as the “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” to establish the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs. It serves both as a law enforcement agency and as an advocate for people with special needs. http://www.justicecenter.ny.gov

New York State Education Department (NYSED): The state agency that oversees and regulates schools, colleges, and universities. Their mission is to raise the knowledge, skill, and opportunity of all the people in New York. Their vision is to provide leadership for a system that yields the best educated people in the world. The services covered by NYSED include ACESS-VR (see above), Office of P-12 education, and Office of Cultural Education (state museum, state archives, etc.)  http://www.nysed.gov/

Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS): The New York State office that oversees addiction recovery and prevention programs for drug, alcohol, and gambling additcions. With more than 1,600 prevention, treatment and recovery programs, OASAS treatment programs assist about 100,000 people on any given day and more than 240,000 individuals every year. http://www.oasas.ny.gov/

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS): The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York’s public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of our children, families and communities. We will achieve results by setting and enforcing policies, building partnerships, and funding and providing quality services. http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/

Office of Mental Health (OMH): The Office of Mental Health operates psychiatric centers across the State, and also regulates, certifies and oversees more than 4,500 programs, which are operated by local governments and nonprofit agencies. These programs include various inpatient and outpatient programs, emergency, community support, residential and family care programs. http://www.omh.ny.gov/

Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD): The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is responsible for coordinating services for more than 126,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological impairments. It provides services directly and through a network of approximately 700 nonprofit service providing agencies, with about 80 percent of services provided by the private nonprofits and 20 percent provided by state-run services. http://www.opwdd.ny.gov/

Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA): The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is responsible for supervising programs that provide assistance and support to eligible families and individuals. OTDA’s functions include: Providing temporary cash assistance; providing assistance in paying for food; providing heating assistance; overseeing New York State’s child support enforcement program; determining certain aspects of eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits; supervising homeless housing and services programs; and providing assistance to certain immigrant populations. https://otda.ny.gov/

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Self-Advocacy Resources

Guideposts for Success
The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability identified key elements that youth need in order to control and direct their own lives based on informed decisions

Am I Learning To Lead?
This self-assessment is designed to help you look at how you’re growing as a leader. When you’re involved in a program, it’s hard to know how much you’re growing as a person. You may feel like a program has a big impact on your life, but you may not be sure how. That’s where tools like this are important. Instead of being centered on what program staff do, this focuses on YOU. Who better to tell us what you’re getting out of the program than you? The goal is to get you and the staff you work with talking about where you’re doing great and what other things you need to practice.

Are They Learning to Lead?
This self-assessment is designed to help you look at how the youth in your program are growing as leaders. When you’re involved in a program, it’s hard to know how much your participants are growing individually. You may feel like your program has a big impact on their lives, but you may not be sure how. That’s where tools like this are important. This assessment tool was designed to help you gauge how well your program is doing. The Goals is to get program staff and participants talking about where the program is doing great and which areas need strengthening.

NCWD Youth in Action! Tip Sheets
Becoming a Stronger Self Advocate
Leading Your Transition Planning
Learning Disability History
Getting Involved in Volunteering
Serving on Decision-Making Boards
Participating in Internships and Work-Based Experiences

Strategic Sharing Workbook
This workbook is for individuals who have experienced traumatic life experiences and are interested in sharing their stories in an effort to promote change.

A Guide to Legislative Advocacy
This guide is designed to help youth with disabilities become stronger advocates. This encompasses a wide array of issues including the basics of how a bill becomes a law, how to educate yourself on the issues that are important to you, and how to use that information in talking with your legislator. This is developed for and by young people with disabilities to be used in classroom settings, in trainings, and to better prepare young people to advocate for themselves.

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Disability and Disclosure Resources

Multiple Systems Navigator
Launched by the NYS Council and Children and Families, MSNavigator.org is a comprehensive disability information resource built for youth, parents, caregivers and direct-care workers – all of whom rely on support and services from multiple child and family serving systems. Topics/resources found on this website include: Transitioning to Adulthood; Addressing Challenging Situations; Family/Youth Support and Peer Advocacy; Comprehensive Mapping Tool; Essential tips; Database of Terms and Acronyms; Hotline Information by Category; and more!

The 411 on Disability Disclosure
Helps young people making informed decisions about whether or not to disclose their disability and understand how that decision may impact their education, employment, and social lives. It does not tell a young person what to do – it helps them make their own informed decisions.
Available in PDF/Word, Audio, and Order- Hard Copy (limited supply)

The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Families, Educators, Youth Service Professionals, and Adult Allies Who Care About Youth with Disabilities
This workbook is for you if:

  • You want to understand the experiences of a young person with a disability;
  • You want to understand how his or her disability influences the choices he or she makes;
  • You want to help a young person explain his or her disability better to others;
  • You are deciding how to advise a young person what and how to disclose; and
  • You feel it would be beneficial for a young person to disclose his or her disability but feel unprepared or uncomfortable guiding him or her through this challenging process.

Cyber Disclosure for Youth with Disabilities
Advances in technology have changed what youth need to know about disability disclosure. This addition to The 411 on Disability Disclosure provides suggestions on how to make an informed decision on disclosing disabilities and managing disclosure online.

Do I tell My Boss? Disclosing My Mental Health Condition at Work
Every young adult with a mental health condition will face the decision of whether or not to tell others about, or disclose their condition at work. This tip sheet provides guidance in helping you make an informed decision.

Job Accommodation Network: JAN
If you have questions about workplace accommodations or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, JAN can help! Individuals can also search accommodations by disability, topic, and limitation.

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Transition Age Youth

Hitting the Open Road After High School 
This publication is intended to help youth think about their options and plan ahead. This Publication examines the four following questions: How can I learn to make choices that are right for me?; What activities can I do during high school to help me get ready?; What are my options after high school?; and How do I access other supports to be successful?

A Guide on How to Get Scholarships and Grants for Students with Disabilities
Many schools and organizations offer assistance to help students with disabilities reach their goals. This link provides information on a wide range of scholarships and grants, as well as tips on how to apply for them.

A Guide to Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities
This guide includes resources for students with disabilities such as a list of more than 85 disability-specific scholarships, strategies for utilizing state and local financial aid resources, and an overview of loan forgiveness and reduction options.

Resources and Funding Strategies for Making Homes Accessible
Adapting your home can help you live more independently. This link provides resources on making homes accessible, assistive technology, independent living for renters, and more.

College Affordability Guide
This website analyzes government-collected data on 5,000+ colleges and universities in the United States to help identify which ones are both financially accessible for low-income students and have a track record for positive student outcomes. You can search rankings by state and subject, as well as gain access to various guides including colleges to be careful about, college life on a budget, and more.

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Youth Cultural Competence/Youth Development

Positive Youth Development Models
Circle of Courage
The Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets

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