Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
By involving youth in disaster preparedness and recovery efforts, youth-serving agencies can help to not only increase youths’ awareness of particular hazards, but can also enhance the chance that they openly discuss how to adequately protect their families and loved ones and understand how to seek help should their community be affected.1 Youth can play a range of roles in youth preparedness programs and play a crucial role in recovery efforts. They may assist communities in mapping their risk and protective factors or may hold leadership positions within programs. Some additional roles include:
- Sharing the message: Youth can help share the message of disaster preparedness2
- Acting as change makers: Youth can act as change makers by sharing information they learned in youth preparedness programs and helping parents and communities to prepare for disaster, for example by developing a disaster plan or disaster preparation kit.
- Bringing creativity: Youth can bring creative and resourceful ideas to disaster preparedness efforts.3
The federal government supports a number of youth-focused programs that support both preparation and recovery from disasters. These programs include:
AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps)
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for young people aged 18 to 24. Members are assigned to one of five campuses, located in Denver, Colorado; Sacramento, California; Perry Point, Maryland; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Vinton, Iowa. The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with non-profits (secular and faith-based), local municipalities, state governments, the federal government, national or state parks, Indian Tribes and schools, members complete service projects throughout the region to which they are assigned.
FEMA Corps is a partnership between FEMA and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program. FEMA Corps is a unique, team-based service program that gives 18‐24‐year‐old participants the opportunity to serve communities impacted by disaster while gaining professional development experience. FEMA Corps members live, work, and travel in dedicated teams and serve for 12 months with an option to extend for a second term. They gain training and experience while providing important support to disaster survivors and communities. They also earn a modest living stipend during their service and receive an education award upon completion of the program.
Citizen Corps was created to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. It provides opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, homes, and communities safer from the threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds. Find local Citizen Corps Councils on the Citizen Corps search page.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people, including youth, about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their community and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. There is also a specific CERT training for teens. 4-H youth programs help to support Teen CERT programs in a number of states. Find local CERT programs on the CERT search page.
FEMA Youth Preparedness Council
The FEMA Youth Preparedness Council provides young people with the opportunity to voice their opinions, experiences, and ideas on youth disaster preparedness with FEMA and other organizations working on youth preparedness, and serve as national advocates of youth preparedness. Members are selected through a highly competitive application process and serve one- or two-year terms. Members attend the annual Youth Preparedness Council Summit, meet periodically via conference call, complete self-selected youth preparedness projects in their communities, and often participate in public speaking and outreach engagements. For more information about the Youth Preparedness Council, please visit the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council page.
Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people
Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.
Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.
Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).