Positive Youth Development

The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys: A TAG Talk

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and New York University Professor of Developmental Psychology Niobe Way developed a video and two discussion guides about the crisis of connection, its impact on the health and well-being of adolescent boys, and the implications for their work with teens.

YE4C Responds to Current Events Affecting Youth

To help youth effectively address the issues of the day, IWGYP has updated the YE4C homepage by adding a Current Events page to give priority focus the best federal resources that are timely and responsive to the issues that are top-of-mind to youth today.

A Positive Youth Development Research Agenda

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (Working Group) recognizes the importance of Positive Youth Development (PYD) and works to ensure that current research-based content is included on youth.gov and to identify resources that support federal efforts in promoting positive youth development and Click here to download the PDF of A Positive Youth Development Research Agendayouth engagement. The Working Group created a national Research Agenda on PYD (PDF, 2 pages), thus giving researchers, practitioners, and policymakers a point of reference for future policies, programs, and research, including evaluations. This Research Agenda on PYD can also be used to stimulate conversations and increase attention to this topic area across agencies. In addition, the research agenda can serve to increase funding support for research and serve as a guide for university scholars and students. For more information on the development of the Research Agenda, see Dymnicki et al. (2016). Developing a Federal Research Agenda for Positive Youth Development: Identifying Gaps in the Field and an Effective Consensus Building Approach. Journal of Youth Development, 11.

This page describes efforts by the Working Group to identify key questions for a federal PYD research agenda to address. The questions below were developed through consultations with participants from many federal agencies who specialize in different areas of research work. The most current version of the research agenda is presented here. Three research domains were identified by the federal colleagues: (1) conceptual issues of PYD, (2) data sources and indicators, and (3) program implementation and effectiveness, based on the work done by National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2002) and more recent work in the field.

Research Questions Related to Conceptual Issues of PYD

  1. To what extent do PYD principles1 increase the likelihood that practices2 or programs lead to improved outcomes for youth and adults?
  2. How can PYD be measured at both the individual and contextual (e.g., relationship, community, society, and system) levels?

Research Questions Related to Data Sources and Indicators

  1. What are valid and reliable measures of PYD?
  2. What are the core competencies needed by staff (e.g., practitioners, providers) to implement PYD practices or programs?

Research Questions Related to Program Implementation and Effectiveness

  1. How can we measure the fidelity of PYD programs as they are being implemented?
  2. How can we assess the extent to which fidelity is related to PYD program effectiveness?
  3. How can we reliably measure dosage (frequency, duration, and intensity) of PYD programs? To what extent do these elements moderate program effectiveness and outcomes?
  4. What are the features of the settings in which PYD programs are delivered that contribute to positive outcomes?
  5. What modifications may need to be made to PYD programs to best serve the needs of diverse (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, poverty level, risk level) youth?
  6. How can input from participating youth and staff be incorporated into the design and implementation of PYD program evaluations?

References

1 Principles are a philosophy or approach emphasizing active support for the growing capacity of young people by individuals, organizations, and institutions, especially at the community level (Hamilton et al., 2004).
2 Practices are a planned set of activities, in which PYD principles are applied to foster the developmental process in young people (Hamilton et al., 2004).

Family Engagement

Meaningful Family Engagement

Family engagement is essential in promoting healthy physical, cognitive and social-emotional development and academic achievement of children and youth from pre-K to high school. Research shows that when families are meaningfully and continuously engaged in their children’s learning and development, they can positively impact their child’s health, development, academic, and well-being outcomes into adulthood.1,2

Description of Family Engagement

Strong family engagement happens when families have a primary and meaningful role in all decision-making that impacts every young person and their families. Meaningful family engagement is about improving outcomes for all youth and families and happens at the system level and at the service level.

At the system level, family engagement is evident when families routinely engage as equal partners with state and local leaders in planning, designing, and evaluating services, programs and policies that impact the lives of children, youth and families served.

Family engagement also happens at the individual service level where agency partners and a single family collaborate in making decisions that address their child’s unique strengths and needs and considers the family’s ideas of success. Meaningful family engagement requires that state and local leaders model and champion family partnership anchored by mutual respect, shared authority, two-way communication, and a commitment to a common vision and shared goals to improve outcomes for every young person and their family.3,4

Definition of “Family” in Family Engagement

Child and youth serving systems broadly define “family” in family engagement as including parents and other adult caregivers, acknowledging today’s varied family units and their needs for extended supports. For example, early childhood education and juvenile justice programming describe family engagement as including biological, adoptive, and foster parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians; and adult siblings.5,6

Some agencies have broadened this definition of family to include related and non-related members. As an example, transition-aged and foster youth work with their providers to identify and name their personal family system that includes peers, mentors, and service providers who they trust and can count on for support. Key service sectors that are implementing family engagement plans and strategies to increase and improve the engagement of families in their systems and services include education, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and primary health care providers.

References

1 Weiss, Lopez, & Caspe, 2016
2 Henderson & Mapp, 2002
3 U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, 2016
4 Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016
5 U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, 2016
6 Development Services Group, Inc., 2018