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ED Blog Post — Performance Partnership Pilots: An Opportunity to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth

This is cross-posted at the U.S. Department of Education's Homeroom blog. See the original post here. Johan Uvin is deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, and Kathy Stack is advisor for evidence and innovation at the Office of Management and Budget.

Over 5 million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are not working or in school and, in many cases, face the additional challenges of being homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. Often disconnected from their families and valuable social networks, these young people struggle to make successful transitions to adulthood and to reach the educational and employment milestones critical to escaping a lifetime of poverty.

Government and community partners have invested considerable attention and resources to meet the needs of these “disconnected youth.” However, practitioners, youth advocates, and others on the front lines of service delivery point to significant obstacles to meaningful improvements in education, employment, health and well-being. These challenges include limited evidence and knowledge of what works, poor coordination and alignment across the systems that serve youth, policies that make it hard to target the neediest youth and overcome gaps in services, fragmented data systems that inhibit the flow of information to improve results, and administrative requirements that impede holistic approaches to serving this population. Many of these challenges can be addressed by improving coordination among programs and targeting resources on those approaches that get the best results for our most vulnerable youth.

A New Approach

In response to the Obama Administration’s proposal, the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 includes a new demonstration authority to establish up to 10 “Performance Partnership Pilots” (PDF, 2 pages) that will provide unprecedented flexibility to states, local communities, and tribes intended to remove some of the barriers to effectively serving disconnected youth, including youth who are low income and either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, unemployed, or not enrolled in or at risk of dropping out of an educational institution.

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