Disconnected youth1 are often defined as young people ages 14-24 who are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, or are neither employed nor enrolled in an educational institution. Across the U.S., there are approximately 6.7 million youth that exhibit one or more of the above risk factors and touch multiple systems.2
The economic burden of disconnected youth is significant, as these young people not only fail to meet their personal potential, but also cost the U.S. billions of dollars every year in lost earnings, incarceration costs, and expenditures on social services. Moreover, siloed administrative and reporting requirements can make it unintentionally difficult for providers to give youth the comprehensive, effective services (PDF, 2 pages) they need.
To address issues faced by disconnected youth and the entities serving them, the 2013 Budget included proposals for Performance Partnership Pilot3 authority and targeted funding. The Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth (IFDY) was established in March 2012 as an out-growth of these budgetary proposals. The IFDY is committed to improving educational, employment and other key outcomes for this population through interagency and intergovernmental collaboration. Learn more about the shared goals and approach of the IFDY to support and reconnect disconnected youth and see additional action steps being taken by Federal agencies and interagency groups.
A Request for Information (RFI) on disconnected youth was published by the Department of Education in the Federal Register in June 2012. The RFI yielded 171 responses from a wide range of organizations and individuals. View a summary of the key themes that were identified and the approach used for analyzing the responses.
Hear what young people have to say about what youth need to become healthy and productive adults. Read a summary of the input provided by youth during a series of listening sessions held to gather input toward the development of a strategic plan for youth.
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a community-based program that leads, trains, and mentors young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who are unemployed and have left school so that they may become productive citizens in America's future. Results from a three year evaluation showed that ChalleNGe participants are more likely than their control group counterparts to have obtained a GED certificate or high school diploma, to have earned college credits, and to be working. Participants’ earnings are also 20 percent higher than control group members’ earnings. Collaboration between the ChalleNGe program and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) supports leadership opportunities for disadvantaged and out-of-school youth serving in their programs.
Project U-Turn is a citywide collaborative effort to address the dropout crisis in Philadelphia. Project U-Turn identifies and examines the problem, promotes the crisis as a system-wide issue rather than an education issue, involves and sustains a diverse array of partners, and works to both prevent students from dropping out as well as re-engage those who have already dropped out. Learn more.
Partnership for Results is a model of local governance designed to implement a broad spectrum of evidence-based programs for the benefit of youth at risk. Operating in Cayuga County in Central New York, it has improved outcomes for children and youth and their families since its founding in 2000. Evaluation results indicate reductions in substance abuse, arrests, juvenile detention expenditures, and foster care placements. Partnership for Results has been associated with increases in standardized test scores, particularly for elementary schools serving low-income children.
The Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development coordinates and aligns state policies and practices to support positive youth development and increase high school graduation rates.
Navicate (formerly Linking Learning to Life, Inc.) supports a collaboration of schools, businesses, colleges, and other organizations to foster opportunities for community service, leadership development, career and college exploration, internships, and employment for youth in Vermont as they transition from school to careers and postsecondary education.
SBIRT/YouthBuild, an employment and training programs funded by the US Department of Labor (DOL), and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), partnered to address alcohol and drug use among students. The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) tool developed by SAMHSA to identify people who have or are at risk for substance use problems and to identify people who need further assessment or referral for treatment. The “SBIRT” was adapted to best suit the young people, ages 16-24, served within the YouthBuild program, and piloted in 15 programs.
Transition age youth (ages 16 to 24), sometimes called “youth in transition” or “youth aging out,” can experience a number of challenges on their path to a successful adulthood. Efforts to reconnect transition age youth to school and work should consider the following issues:
1 Belfield, C.R., Levin, H. M., Rosen, R. (2012). The economic value of opportunity youth. Available on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s website at http://www.civicenterprises.net/MediaLibrary/Docs/econ_value_opportunity_youth.pdf.
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Many Federal departments and agencies offer comprehensive services for opportunity youth.