Youth Development Workgroup.
The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) hosted a Youth Development Workgroup (Workgroup) that included representatives from community-based organizations providing youth development programs, including expanded learning, mentoring, school-age child care, wrap-around supports, and integrated student support advisors. The Workgroup also included representatives from the DCYF, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and people with lived experience in state systems.
The Workgroup defined youth development providers and programs as those that include mentoring, expanded learning, after-school programs, summer programs, school-aged child care, and other whole child supports that ensure the comprehensive needs of young people are addressed. Youth development programs focus on holistic outcomes by complementing school-day academics, promoting social and emotional well-being, and supporting access to postsecondary and career pathways. While youth development providers or programs may not provide basic needs services such as shelter or food outside of program time, they often function as a key referral resource to help young people and families navigate those additional services.
The Workgroup provided recommendations to the Legislature including:
Department of Children, Youth, and Families Regions.
The DCYF has a regional structure with six regions across the state and includes:
The Department of Commerce (Commerce) must develop and implement a grant program that provides grant funding to youth development programs in the state that provide:
A youth development program is defined as a program for youth that focuses on holistic outcomes by complementing school-day academics, promotes social and emotional well-being, and supports access to postsecondary career pathways. Youth development programs may not provide basic needs services such as shelter or food outside of program time, but they can function as a referral resource to help young people and families identify and navigate those services. A youth development program may include mentoring, expanded learning opportunities, after-school or summer programs, school-aged child care, or other child supports that address the comprehensive needs of young people.
Expanded learning opportunities are defined as a structured learning environment that occurs outside the traditional school day through before school, after-school, and summer programs. Expanded learning opportunities offer a safe place for students where education can be supported and supplemented.
In designing the grant program, Commerce must engage with and consider feedback from the following groups with representation from all six of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) regions of the state to include:
The design of the grant program for youth development programs must include the following components:
To the extent possible, the DCYF shall include youth, who are compensated for their time, in reviewing grant applications.
The substitute bill requires that the design of the youth development grant program include a component to prioritize youth development providers that represent the historically marginalized communities of the youth that they serve.
(In support) When there is an investment in the youngest members of society, there is an investment in the future. This bill brings a wide range of opportunities for children, including those at risk for trauma. The inclusion in this kind of programming increases resiliency. When kids are kept busy, they stay out of trouble.
High quality youth development programming include more creative pieces that bring learning to life and also provide a safe place for youth outside the classroom.
This bill comes from decades of programming, but no state supports programming. During the COVID-19 pandemic (pandemic), youth development programs were still running and helping with supplies to allow kids to engage with learning while school was remote.
Youth should have a voice in making this program possible.
There should be a state structure for youth development programming in addition to this grant program.
Boys and Girls clubs provide services to 57,000 youth through various youth outreach programs. Most of these programs stayed open for 10 to 12 hours for a year and a half during the pandemic. Youth development programs have been proven to show a return in investment. This can be anywhere between $9 to $10. These programs also provide stability for working parents.
The second benefit from these programs is the preventative nature of this programming and preventing interaction with the juvenile justice system, substance use disorders, and the provision of other state services. Most of youth development program funding comes from local funding sources.
If there were a state source of funding, there would be greater stability in the field.
Mentors and youth development programming staff play a huge role in the lives of youth.
Youth participate in service projects, which leads to greater financial and career success.
The pandemic was devastating for young people's health. This bill will provide vital and necessary support for after-school activities.
This bill is critical to the development of the youth in our state. There are children born just before or during the pandemic where a person can see the social emotional impact of the pandemic.
Youth programming helps youth with budgeting, getting a job, securing an internship, emotional awareness, and letting them know that their community supports them.
Kids who ran around with unsafe people doing unsafe activities are now participating in these youth development programs.
Some of this youth development programming helps bring after-school and outdoor activities to young people who would not otherwise have that opportunity.