Youth Advocate

position Description


Youth Justice Network (YJN) was founded in 1990 to anchor, support and build capacity among young people released from jail in New York City. We break cycles of incarceration and promote an equitable justice system by providing young people with opportunities to grow thrive, and lead. We leverage authentic relationships and local resources so that young people can forge their pathways to well-being and positive development.

Position Background

As part of Youth Justice Network’s advocacy team, Youth Advocates are at the core of implementing an innovative system of pre-release planning and neighborhood-based aftercare and support for the youngest people admitted to and released from DOC and ACS custody in New York City. Youth Advocates serve as mentor, case manager, navigator, facilitator and coach to individual youth with whom they first connect upon admission to facilities. The primary work of the Youth Advocate takes place in the New York City neighborhoods to which these youth return.

Hours: Full-time (40 hours/week)

Reports to: Director of Advocacy and Support Services, Bronx

Location: Citywide and Rikers Island

Objectives of this Role

Develop relationships with young people in jail and custodial settings prior to their release, with the goal of creating and following individualized plans during and after custody

  • Connect with youth at one of several facilities which house adolescents and young adults;
  • Spend time in new admissions houses on a rotating schedule, providing early contact and concrete, limited supports, including family outreach;
  • Reach out to youth significant other/family and other potential support systems available to youth;
  • Conduct consistent weekly visits leading up to the release date, allowing time to cement relationships and meet with families prior to the youth’s release;  
  • Follow youth and maintain on-going contact as they move through general population;
  • Reach out to and develop relationship with families of youth;
  • Gather relevant information to create an individualized plan that includes reaching out to community organizations that will serve the young people upon release;
  • Gauge young person’s readiness to make positive changes/improvements in their life;
  • Collaborate with in-house court advocacy team to identify young people who need additional support at court, assist young people with follow through on this plan;
  • Daily documentation of outreach, follow-up, individualized youth plans, and youth progress in the online database system.

Leverage relationships and release plans established with young people during custody and in community via Shifting Gears outreach to provide neighborhood-based supports

  • Prepare and support families for a youth’s transition home from justice system involvement prior to release from custody;
  • Facilitate and support youth enrollment, engagement and academic advancement;
  • Provide one-on-one and group mentoring in a YJN neighborhood hub to build relationships and support young people toward achieving positive youth outcomes.
  • Connect youth to post-release neighborhood-based services, both in-house and through partner organizations, to support individual progress in overall youth development and to leverage natural supports and services in the neighborhood on behalf of youth members;
  • Facilitate and support young people’s engagement with the world of work;
  • Leverage relationships with formal and informal community members/leaders, local vendors, faith-based supports;
  • Address and navigate system-related barriers on behalf of youth and families;
  • Daily documentation of outreach, follow-up, individualized youth plans, and youth progress in the online database system.
  • Bachelor’s degree required and relevant experience working with youth population;
  • Two years of experience youth and young adults who are systems involved (i.e. juvenile justice, child welfare, etc.);
  • Two years of experience working in a community-based setting providing crisis support and/or case management;
  • Integrity, flexibility and a profound commitment to the youth we serve;
  • Committed to working collegially and in a team-based setting;
  • Experience/training in youth development;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, cultural competence, and an understanding and belief in strengths-based youth development philosophy;
  • Strong oral and written communication skills;
  • Skilled in meticulous documentation and an eye for detail; proficient in Microsoft Excel.
  • Experience in data entry on online database systems or a willingness to learn online database systems;
  • Individuals with prior criminal justice involvement are encouraged to apply, but must be able to gain clearance on Rikers Island (no contact with criminal justice system for two years, including parole or probation).
  • Physical ability to travel extensively throughout the five boroughs and Rikers via walking and public transportation.
  • Occasional evenings and weekends required for youth development activities/events


  • Experience in education, conflict resolution, and/or counseling;
  • Experience with or understanding of trauma-informed practices;
  • Bilingual;
  • Experience working with both DOC and ACS systems and facilities;
  • Experience in program start-up and/or working in a secure/custodial setting strongly preferred.

Youth Justice Network is privileged to have a profoundly committed and caring staff - one that believes unconditionally in our youth members' ability to do right and do well. We take our work very seriously, but we strive to make time for joy and self-care. We look for staff from all walks of life who have integrity, humor, and a strong work ethic, and who are passionate about young people and committed to addressing the harms caused by incarceration.

Depending on full or part-time status, benefits include a competitive vacation/sick leave policy including three days off between Christmas and New Year's Day, four-day summer weeks through July and August, generous health insurance, 403b match.

Start Date: As soon as possible

Annual Salary Range: $50,000

Please send a resume and cover letter to and (Tahirah Wornum, Finance and Administration Coordinator).

To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to:

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