Supporting Comprehensive Strategies for Youth

On July 17, the Forum for Youth Investment, in partnership with American Institutes for Research, the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, the Campaign for Youth, the Children’s Leadership Council, and the National Collaboration for Youth hosted a webinar titled  “White House/Obama Administration: Policies Supporting Comprehensive Strategies for Youth.” The webinar focused on plans from the Obama Administration to support comprehensive, place-based interagency efforts for youth, particularly those disconnected from education and the workforce. Speakers included Kathy Stack, Co-chair of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth; Johan Uvin, Co-Chair of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth; Martha Moorehouse, Chair of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs; and Sarah Oberlander, leader of the Working Group’s production of FindYouthInfo.gov.

Stack and Uvin provided an overview of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth (IFDY), and revealed what was learned through the Request for Information (RFI). Stack explained the origins of the IFDY, beginning in 2011 with a Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility. The insights gained from this memorandum resulted in the creation of the IFDY in March of 2012, which issued a formal RFI that June. The 170 responses from the RFI revealed several key themes which included:.

  • The need for improved access to data and information sharing;
  • The need for shared outcomes;
  • The need for alignment of eligibility requirements;
  • The need to target sub-populations, such as foster care or homeless youth;
  • The importance of a long-term connection with an adult or mentor; and
  • Full youth participation in the development, implementation, and evaluation of proposed pilots.

Stack also highlighted three items within the president’s proposed FY 14 budget which would serve the disconnected youth population. One key feature of the president’s budget is the creation of Performance Partnership Pilots, through which up to 13 communities would be authorized to use existing federal funding more flexibly if it leads to better outcomes for disconnected youth. The president’s budget also includes $30 million toward several programs that support disconnected youth and increase data capacity for continuous improvement. One new provision would allocate $300 million for a Pay for Success (PFS) program in the Department of the Treasury. The PFS program will provide new funding for efforts that improve child and youth outcomes.

Moorehouse and Oberlander provided information on the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and reviewed their draft strategic plan for federal collaboration, “Pathways for Youth.” After briefly listing the 18 member agencies and organizations, Moorehouse described the activities of the work group. These include the creation of an interagency website to provide resources which facilitate collaboration (FindYouthInfo.gov); indentifying and disseminating best practices that support youth; promoting collaboration at the federal, state, and local levels; and developing a strategic plan for federal youth policy.

Oberlander provided an overview of the Pathways for Youth draft strategic plan, which centers around three overarching goals:

  • Goal 1: Promote coordinated strategies to improve youth outcomes.
  • Goal 2: Promote the use of evidence-based and innovative strategies at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels.
  • Goal 3: Promote youth engagement and partnerships to strengthen programs and benefit youth.

The strategic plan also includes a list of cross-cutting initiatives aimed to connect work across different grant applications:

  • Develop shared language for grant applications and federal documents.
  • Assess and disseminate models of collaboration.
  • Centralize and disseminate information on promising and evidence-based strategies for youth.
  • Promote data collection and long-term evaluation of policies and programs that impact youth.

Oberlander concluded with a series of next steps, and emphasized the desire for public feedback on the draft plan, which can be provided through the work group’s website.

For more information, view a recording of the webinar and PowerPoint slides at the link provided here.

Austin Pate is a Research/Policy Assistant at the American Youth Policy Forum.

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