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Shared Goal Statement (Draft)

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 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.

The IFDY sees the following challenges and opportunities for disconnected youth and their families, as well as the federal agencies, state and local governments, community-based organizations, and other entities working to serve them:

  • Too often, disconnected youth are not effectively served by the existing systems and programs, and the existing infrastructures could be better connected and coordinated to ensure youth receive appropriate, comprehensive services.
  • Interagency, as well as intergovernmental, collaboration, communication, and commitment to serving this population are imperative because programs serving disconnected youth span many agencies and systems.
  • Barriers to serving this population effectively exist at all levels of government – local, State, and Federal, but many stakeholders at all levels of government are committed to removing them.   
  • There is a need to build evidence about which program models are most effective in helping disconnected youth, and specific sub-populations of disconnected youth, achieve positive outcomes.
  • Foundations and other private sector organizations are also looking at ways to improve services and outcomes for disconnected youth.

Recognizing these challenges and opportunities, the IFDY is committed to improving outcomes for disconnected youth by:

  • Convening agencies with programs serving disconnected youth, leveraging existing interagency work, and establishing an interagency commitment to addressing problems faced by this population;
  • Identifying federal barriers to serving disconnected youth effectively, and dispelling myths about current requirements;
  • Identifying and pursuing administrative, legislative, and regulatory changes necessary to overcoming these barriers;
  • Building evidence about what works, incorporating this evidence into program strategies serving disconnected youth across the federal government, and disseminating this evidence to the entities providing services to disconnected youth;
  • Exploring and testing innovative ways of serving this population, such as through greater flexibility and Performance Partnership Pilots;
  • Developing shared measures, where possible, so that federal agencies, state and local governments, and other stakeholders can better track progress in improving outcomes for this population;  
  • Exploring ways to partner with philanthropic organizations to leverage funding and other resources; to complement, rather than duplicate, ongoing work in the private sector; and to align public-private strategies and goals for serving disconnected youth.

Please send your thoughts on the Draft Shared Goal Statement to

1 The term “Opportunity Youth” may also be used to describe this population.
2 Belfied, Levin, and Rosen, “The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth” (Jan. 2012),
3 Performance Partnerships allow states and localities to pilot better ways of using Federal resources by giving them additional flexibility in using discretionary funds across multiple Federal programs in exchange for greater accountability for results.