On the initiative of a group of concerned citizens, the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB) was created in 1947, with Sam Woodside serving as director on a volunteer basis. The following year, by a resolution of Common Council, the IYB became an officially designated department of the city with the charge to provide youth programs in the community. Edgar Siebring was the first paid director.

The IYB was 1 of 6 original agencies established under the New York State Youth Commission Act of 1945. The current state umbrella agency for youth bureaus, the Office of Children and Family Services, still provides matching funds to the city toward the cost of youth programming under revised provisions of that original legislation.

The city charter requires the IYB "to coordinate, foster, and supplement the activities of public agencies and programs devoted in whole or in part to the welfare of youth in and about the City of Ithaca which may wish to come under its auspices, and to cooperate with other agencies working toward this goal. The activities shall conform with state law supporting its activities and be subject to such rules and regulations as may be imposed by the government of the City of Ithaca."

IYB Locations
IYB has had several different locations. Its first home was in City Hall when it was located along with the police and fire headquarters (where the Seneca Street parking garage now stands). Edgar Siebring was followed as director in the 1950s by Judson Hill and then Jackson Hall. After the fire department moved to a new home in the mid-50s, a youth center was added on the 3rd floor of that Old Central Fire Station. Later, city hall moved temporarily across the street to the corner of Seneca and Tioga streets.

In the early 60s, under the leadership of Robert Briggs, the IYB was relocated along with city hall in the Old Eagles Building, (now TG Miller's) on East State Street. There the youth bureau occupied 2 floors, with a youth center on the 3rd floor. C. Robert Cutia became director in 1966, and bureau offices moved again with city hall to its current location on East Green Street.

In late 1969, IYB offices and activities space moved to the "Tin Can" building, a former Naval Reserve Training Center at the entrance to Stewart Park, sold to the city for $1. Since the "Tin Can" was built for summer use only, it was considered a temporary home for the youth bureau - for 15 years.

Increasing Youth Services
In the early 70s, the city took advantage of funding from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and created the Cass Park swimming pool and ice skating rink complex, installing ball fields, tennis courts, and the inlet fitness trail nearby. This complex began operating under the auspices of the Youth Bureau in 1972.

Also in 1972 the Greater Ithaca Activities Center was created by a Greater Ithaca Recreation Council, formed to seek a more coordinated comprehensive approach within the community for the delivery of youth services-at that time perceived as primarily recreation. Organizers included the city Youth Bureau, the Social Service League, the United Way, the YMCA and the Ithaca city School district. The School District sold the Building at Court and Albany streets, and in 1974 GIAC staff became Civil Service Employees under the auspices of the city Youth Bureau. GIAC still receives funding from the United Way, is now a separate city department and operates with its own Board of Directors.

In 1974, in response to community concerns about increasing numbers of at-risk youth and delinquent behavior in the city, the youth bureau established its Youth Development Department, with the mission of: providing outreach and informal counseling for at-risk youth, assistance to families in need of support with their children's development; response to the needs of youth referred by the schools and courts; programs to develop employment and social skills; and assistance in coordinating community resources that serve youth.

Youth Development now provides county-wide youth services, with a substantial portion of its funding from Tompkins County as well as state agencies.

In 1976, the Youth Bureau initiated a new branch of programming within the Recreation Division - devoted to adaptive recreation for children and adults with a range of disabilities. "Special Programs" later became "Recreation Mainstreaming Services," now a separate division providing county-wide services. Funders include Tompkins County's Youth Services and Mental Health Services Divisions, and the NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

In 1985, the city determined that the old Tin Can building was no longer a reasonable home for the youth bureau (in part because of asbestos problems). Rather than renovate, the building was demolished and a new home was planned at the same location. For nearly 2 years, the bureau operated out of temporary offices in Clinton Plaza, until the opening in April 1987 of the C. Robert Cutia Community Services building, named for the retiring director who guided the agency through more than 2 decades of development. Samuel Cohen, coordinator of the bureau's youth development division from 1974 - became director in 1988.

In the 1990s the IYB expanded offerings in every division, reaching out to youth and families with a wide variety of programs and services. The Recreation Partnership (RP) was formed at this time. With ten municipalities, this unique alliance is one of the largest in the state. The IYB Recreation Division is the program provider. The contributions of the county and participating municipalities help keep programs affordable and accessible.

Samuel Cohen retired as director in 2000 and after a period with acting directors at the helm, Allen Green became director in 2003. During this time, the programs continued to expand. In Youth Development programs included One-to-One Big Brothers Big Sisters, Youth Employment Service, Computer All Stars, the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program, the Outing Program, Ithaca Youth Council and the College Discovery Program. In Recreation, there was a wide variety of sports, expressive arts, camps, lessons and other programs and community events. Recreation Support Services and Cass Park programs also expanded. At Cass Park, a new waterfront trail was developed as well as a children's garden, new playgrounds and a new water slide.

Current Day
Currently, thousands of young people and families are served each year. This is made possible through the dedicated efforts of a wonderful staff and as a result of the support of the community, elected officials and with the assistance of many volunteers serving as mentors, coaches, tutors, etc.