Illinois Youth Court Association:
How to Start a Youth Court
RESEARCH youth court programs. Utilize the IYCA and National Youth Court Center Resources, articles, trainings, etc. You may be able to visit a nearby youth court. Also, get an understanding of the BARJ philosophy and how it relates to youth courts.
ROLES - Develop an advisory board or task force. Contact local law enforcement, courts, probation, and schools. Encourage support and participation. Brainstorm possible community agencies. Develop an action plan and timeline. Determine roles.
REFERRALS - Develop agreements with suitable community agencies. (Precautions must be taken in using community agencies who will work with youth). Determine referral process. Develop necessary forms (referral forms, permission forms, etc.). Decide where and when the youth court will be held.
RECRUIT and train peer jurors and adult volunteers. (Adults working with children will require background checks.) Figure out how you will evaluate your program. Continue to inform the community about your program (e.g. brochure, school postings, newsletter, speaking to groups). BEGIN HEARING CASES!
RECOGNIZE the efforts of your youth court and its volunteers. You may also want to plan events for your youth court or get your volunteers and/or respondents to do group projects in the community (e.g. food drives, educational program for younger children, visit senior centers).
REMEMBER - There is no one way to develop or run a youth court. You will need to determine what is right for your program, youth, and community. The IYCA always is here to help.