Families of all kinds face serious struggles with the behavior of young family members. In some cases, youthful misbehavior can get so bad that families decide they need outside help. When this happens, families in low-income communities of color are often told that their only option is to involve the juvenile justice system and file for a legal process known as “PINS,” or Person in Need of Supervision. Instead of improving a young person’s life, PINS often has long-term harmful effects on their future, including detention, out-of-home placement, and a permanent criminal record. While PINS might be needed for some young people, for many, there are much better options — but going against the advice of well-meaning teachers, counselors, and social workers recommending PINS can be difficult. So what should a concerned parent do? What are the alternatives to PINS, and how can parents make the right choice for their young person?

To help families understand exactly what happens when you file a PINS, and alternative options, CUP collaborated with Community Connections for Youth, Inc. (CCFY) and designers Jeff Louie and Kimberly Lum to create What is a PINS?— an illustrated fold-out poster in both English and Spanish. What is a PINS? guides families step-by-step through the PINS process and explains what can happen when young people are put in contact with the legal system. The poster uses images to explain the importance of community-based programs for youth and maps out the different types of programs that are out there, with advice on how to find the right fit for each family.

CCFY is distributing thousands of posters to family members seeking help for their young person through their Parent Peer Support Program in the Bronx’s Family Court juvenile justice division. They are also distributing the poster through partnerships with New York’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Family Assessment Program, which provides PINS diversion, as well as through public schools in NYC with high rates of suspension and arrest.

Resources & Links

CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities works to build grassroots community leadership and power across diverse low-income Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City to fight for institutional change towards racial, gender, and economic justice.

IntraCollaborative extends principles of the academic setting into real communities, working jointly to unravel complex issues, and develop communication tools aimed at social reform.

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, A Blade of Grass, the North Star Fund, and public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Chinatown Tenants Union, Yen Norah Lo, Valeria Mogilevich, Mark Torrey, Clara Amenyo, Pema Domingo-Barker, Ron Morrison, Evan Gao


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Helki Frantzen
  • Project Lead
  • Rosten Woo
  • Project Support
  • John Mangin, Valeria
  • Mogilevich, Sarah Nelson
  • Wright
  • People’s Production House
  • Project Coordinator
  • Josh Breitbart
  • City-As-School 
  • Students
  • Kristian Roberts, Joanna
  • Pajuelo, Darnell Lubin,
  • Brain Garrido
  • Intern Coordinator
  • Andre Knights