History, Mission & Vision
Originally founded as Bay Area Youth Services, Inc., BAYS Florida was organized and chartered as a Florida Not-For-Profit Corporation on April 19, 1982. The agency, founded by William F. Bowman, was developed with the objective of improving the quality of life and increasing the potential of Florida’s youth. Since that time, BAYS Florida has provided high quality and professional youth and family services throughout the State of Florida. Over a 35+ year history BAYS Florida has grown into a multi-faceted organization with 15 office locations and over 100 employees.
Over the years, BAYS Florida has provided a variety of delinquency prevention, diversion, and intervention services, with our strength and expertise mainly demonstrated in juvenile justice case management and delivery of psychoeducational classes. BAYS Florida was the original Hillsborough and Manatee County Juvenile Alternative Services Program (JASP) provider from 1982 to 2000, the Polk, Hardee and Highlands County JASP provider from 1986 to 2000, and Aftercare/Conditional Release provider from 1994 until 2007.
In 2000, BAYS Florida was awarded contracts for the Intensive Delinquent Diversion Program (IDDS). The agency provided IDDS in multiple judicial circuits from 2000 to 2013. In 2013 BAYS Florida worked closely with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to transition its IDDS programs to the Juvenile Diversion Alternatives Program (JDAP) model. BAYS Florida currently provides JDAP throughout the State of Florida.
BAYS Florida also instrumental in the development of the innovative Prodigy Program. Created in 2000, Prodigy, is a research-based prevention, intervention and diversion program for at-risk youth ages 7-17. Prodigy uses visual and performing arts as a way to reach youth who live in high risk neighborhoods or who have been diverted or adjudicated from the juvenile justice system. BAYS Florida provided the Prodigy diversion programming until 2014.
BAYS Florida has provided several other youth and family support services over the years. The organization has extensive experience as a contract service provider serving such organizations as: the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Labor, Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Selby Foundation, Suncoast Workforce Board, Evidence Based Associates, University Area Community Development Center (UACDC), the University of South Florida, and the Homebuilder’s Institute.
In 2015, Bay Area Youth Services, Inc. re-branded and transitioned to its new name BAYS Florida. This effort was a direct result of our service expansion throughout the State of Florida and the commitment to serve and inspire change in individuals, families, and communities. Our organizational mission and vision statements were also updated along with our name and logo.