Executive Summary

Adolescence is the pivotal period between childhood and adulthood. It is the time when youth need to acquire the attitudes, competencies, values, and social skills that will carry them forward to successful adulthood. It is also the time when they need to avoid choices and behaviors that will limit their future potential. Parents and families play a crucial role in helping young people navigate this phase. In the past, schools, neighborhoods, and communities extended and enhanced positive development and supported young people. Indeed, an enduring image of American life is the participation of neighbors and community members watching out for children, taking responsibility for their safety and well-being, and helping to steer them in the right direction.

In recent decades, a number of social forces have changed both the landscape of family and community life and the expectations for young people. A combination of factors have weakened the informal community support once available to young people: high rates of family mobility; greater anonymity in neighborhoods, where more parents are at work and out of the home and neighborhood for long periods, and in schools, which have become larger and much more heterogeneous; extensive media exposure



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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development Executive Summary Adolescence is the pivotal period between childhood and adulthood. It is the time when youth need to acquire the attitudes, competencies, values, and social skills that will carry them forward to successful adulthood. It is also the time when they need to avoid choices and behaviors that will limit their future potential. Parents and families play a crucial role in helping young people navigate this phase. In the past, schools, neighborhoods, and communities extended and enhanced positive development and supported young people. Indeed, an enduring image of American life is the participation of neighbors and community members watching out for children, taking responsibility for their safety and well-being, and helping to steer them in the right direction. In recent decades, a number of social forces have changed both the landscape of family and community life and the expectations for young people. A combination of factors have weakened the informal community support once available to young people: high rates of family mobility; greater anonymity in neighborhoods, where more parents are at work and out of the home and neighborhood for long periods, and in schools, which have become larger and much more heterogeneous; extensive media exposure

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development to themes of violence and heavy use and abuse of drugs and alcohol; and, in some cases, the deterioration and disorganization of neighborhoods and schools as a result of crime, drugs, and poverty. At the same time, today’s world has become increasingly complex, technical, and multicultural, placing new and challenging demands on young people in terms of education, training, and the social and emotional skills needed in a highly competitive environment. Finally, the length of adolescence has extended to the mid- to late twenties, and the pathways to adulthood have become less clear and more numerous. Concerns about youth are at the center of many policy debates. The future well-being of the country depends on raising a generation of skilled, competent, and responsible adults. Yet at least 25 percent of adolescents in the United States are at serious risk of not achieving “productive adulthood” and face such risks as substance abuse, adolescent pregnancy, school failure, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Depending on their circumstances and choices, they may carry those risks into their adult lives. Public investments in programs to counter such trends have grown significantly over the past decade or so. For the most part, these efforts have targeted specific problems and threats to young people. Substantial public health investments have also been made to prevent such problems as teen smoking, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and alcohol and other drug use. Major funding has been allocated to the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency and youth crime. These efforts have led to some successes. On one hand, adolescent well-being and behavior have shown substantial improvement in some areas since the late 1980s. Serious violent juvenile crime has declined, teen pregnancy has decreased, and more young people are graduating from high school and participating in volunteer and community service. On the other hand, cigarette smoking, HIV infection, school violence, and obesity have increased during this period, particularly among youth in high-risk urban neighborhoods and very poor rural communities. In addition, many youth are entering the labor market with inadequate knowledge skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and prepare for and succeed in a job interview. Continued efforts to prevent and control these and other problems are clearly needed. An exclusive focus on problems, however, narrows the vision that society should have for all of its young people. Many who study adolescent development and work with young people have increasingly come to believe that being problem-free is not fully pre-

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development pared. Beyond eliminating problems, one needs skills, knowledge, and a variety of other personal and social assets to function well during adolescence and adulthood. Thus a broader, more holistic view of helping youth to realize their full potential is gaining wider credence in the world of policy and practice. This approach is not viewed as replacing the focus on preventing problems, but rather creating a larger framework that promotes positive outcomes for all young people. Public and private organizations are now engaged in a wide array of activities that fall within this framework. Such programs include mentoring, school-based community service programs and other volunteer activities, school-to-work transition programs, parenting skills, arts and recreation activities, among others. All are part of a new direction in public policy that places children and adolescents once again at the center of neighborhood and community life, where they can engage with caring adults inside and outside their families, develop a sense of security and personal identity, and learn rules of behavior, expectations, values, morals, and skills needed to move into healthy and productive adulthood. Recent increases in funding from federal agencies, foundations, state and local governments, and the private sector have given impetus to these efforts and, at the same time, focused attention on the need to assess program effects and provide objective, reliable information to guide future investment. There is great diversity among the organizations that offer these programs, as well as the programs’ emphases, curricula, and populations served. Organizations offering youth programs range from large national youth-serving agencies, such as 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls, Inc., Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, to more local youth sports organizations, community centers, schools, libraries, faith-based institutions, museums, arts centers, service clubs, and numerous other grassroots organizations. Programs may target youth broadly or focus on a subset of them, defined by characteristics such as neighborhood, ethnic group, or special need. The focus of these programs may be general or specific (e.g., centered on sports, religion, or academic success). This report focuses broadly on community-based programs for youth and examines what is known about their design, implementation, and evaluation. These are programs located in the communities in which the youth live. In the context of this report, communities may include neighborhoods, block groups, towns, and cities, as well as nongeographically defined communities based on family connections and shared interests or values.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development THE COMMITTEE CHARGE The Committee on Community-Level Programs for Youth was es-tablished by the Board on Children, Youth, and Families and the Committee on Adolescent Health and Development (formerly the Forum on Adolescence). The specific charge to the committee was: Review and synthesize available data on community interventions and programs to promote positive outcomes for adolescent development; Assess the strengths and limitations of data sources and indicators commonly used to characterize youth health, development, and well-being; Assess the strengths and limitations of methodologies and approaches used to evaluate these activities; and Identify gaps and central questions for the design of a unified conceptual framework and research agenda to promote the healthy development of youth. To the extent feasible, the committee was asked to identify those programs with sufficiently strong evidence to suggest that they could serve as models for communities that are enhancing their youth programs. Support for the committee’s work came from private foundations and federal agencies. All those supporting this study share a common desire to understand more about how community programs for youth can be designed to promote the positive development of youth. Foundations seek guidance about wise investments in adolescent programming; policy makers seek guidance regarding effective prevention and youth development approaches; and program practitioners and managers seek assistance as they work to design and evaluate their programs. The committee examined programs that target young people ages 10 to 18. While we made the decision to focus our review and analysis on programs promoting a “youth development” perspective, we rejected the often polarized view of youth programming as either “prevention/problem-centered” or “youth development” centered. Our view is that both approaches are valuable and necessary and that, in practice, the distinction between the two is often blurred. The committee turned to multiple types and sources of information for this report—theory, practical experience, and qualitative and quanti-

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development tative research and data—in order to gain as broad a perspective as possible on positive youth development. Based on its analysis of this information, the committee generated a set of conclusions and recommendations organized around two primary themes: (a) policy and practice; and (b) research, evaluation, and data collection. In beginning its work, the committee agreed on a set of four core concepts that serve as a foundation for this report: Some youth are doing very well; Some youth are taking dangerous risks and doing poorly; All young people need a variety of experiences to develop to their full potential; Some young people have unmet needs and are particularly at risk of participating in problem behaviors (e.g., dropping out of school, participating in violent behavior). These include young people who often, but by no means always, live in high-risk neighborhoods, are poor, experience repeated racial and ethnic discrimination, and have a substantial amount of unsupervised time during nonschool hours. Other youth who are in special need of more programs include youth with disabilities of all kinds, youth from troubled family situations, and youth with special needs for places to find emotional support. Although the committee stresses the importance of providing support for all youth regardless of economic status, we were also particularly interested in understanding community programs for young people who have the greatest need coupled with the fewest resources. We found very little research to talk specifically about the kinds of programs that would be particularly appropriate for these disadvantaged and underserved youth, including youth who are gay and lesbian, youth who are bullied at school, and youth who have experienced sexual and other forms of harassment. POLICY AND PRACTICE Promoting Adolescent Development at the Program Level Understanding adolescent development and the factors contributing to the healthy development of all young people is critical to the design and implementation of community programs for youth. Consequently

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development BOX ES-1 Personal and Social Assets That Facilitate Positive Youth Development Physical development Good health habits Good health risk management skills Intellectual development Knowledge of essential life skills Knowledge of essential vocational skills School success Rational habits of mind—critical thinking and reasoning skills In-depth knowledge of more than one culture Good decision-making skills Knowledge of skills needed to navigate through multiple cultural contexts Psychological and emotional development Good mental health including positive self-regard Good emotional self-regulation skills Good coping skills the committee began its work by identifying a set of personal and social assets that increase the healthy development and well-being of adolescents and facilitate a successful transition from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. We grouped these assets into four broad developmental domains: physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional, and social development. Box ES-1 summarizes the four domains and specifies the assets within each. Conclusions Individuals do not necessarily need the entire range of assets to thrive; in fact, various combinations of assets across domains reflect equally positive adolescent development.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development Good conflict resolution skills Mastery motivation and positive achievement motivation Confidence in one’s personal efficacy “Planfulness” —planning for the future and future life events Sense of personal autonomy/responsibility for self Optimism coupled with realism Coherent and positive personal and social identity Prosocial and culturally sensitive values Spirituality or a sense of a “larger” purpose in life Strong moral character A commitment to good use of time Social development Connectedness—perceived good relationships and trust with parents, peers, and some other adults Sense of social place/integration—being connected and valued by larger social networks Attachment to prosocial/conventional institutions, such as school, church, nonschool youth programs Ability to navigate in multiple cultural contexts Commitment to civic engagement Having more assets is better than having few. Although strong assets in one category can offset weak assets in another category, life is easier to manage if one has assets in all four domains. Continued exposure to positive experiences, settings, and people, as well as opportunities to gain and refine life skills, supports young people in the acquisition and growth of these assets. Moving now from the individual to the environment, young people develop these positive personal and social assets in settings that have the following features. Physical and psychological safety and security; Structure that is developmentally appropriate, with clear expectations for behavior as well as increasing opportunities to make

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development decisions, to participate in governance and rule-making, and to take on leadership roles as one matures and gains more expertise; Emotional and moral support; Opportunities for adolescents to experience supportive adult relationships; Opportunities to learn how to form close, durable human relationships with peers that support and reinforce healthy behaviors; Opportunities to feel a sense of belonging and being valued; Opportunities to develop positive social values and norms; Opportunities for skill building and mastery; Opportunities to develop confidence in one’s abilities to master one’s environment (a sense of personal efficacy); Opportunities to make a contribution to one’s community and to develop a sense of mattering; and Strong links between families, schools, and broader community resources. Table ES-1 provides details on the features of positive developmental settings. Conclusions Since these features typically work together in synergistic ways, programs with more features are likely to provide better supports for young people’s positive development. Community programs can expand the opportunities for youth to acquire personal and social assets and to experience the broad range of features of positive developmental settings. Among other things, community programs can incorporate opportunities for physical, cognitive, and social and emotional development; opportunities to address issues of ethnic identity, sexual identity, and intergroup relationships; opportunities for community involvement and service; and opportunities to interact with caring adults and a diversity of peers who hold positive social norms and have high life goals and expectations. Recommendation 1—Community programs for youth should be based on a developmental framework that supports the acquisition of personal and social assets in an environment, and through activities, that

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development TABLE ES-1 Features of Positive Developmental Settings   Descriptors Opposite Poles Physical and Psychological Safety Safe and health-promoting facilities; practice that increases safe peer group interaction and decreases unsafe or confrontational peer interactions. Physical and health dangers; fear; feeling of insecurity, sexual and physical harassment; and verbal abuse. Appropriate Structure Limit setting; clear and consistent rules and expectations; firm-enough control; continuity and predictability; clear boundaries; and age-appropriate monitoring. Chaotic; disorganized; laissez-faire; rigid; overcontrolled; and autocratic. Supportive Relationships Warmth; closeness; connectedness; good communication; caring; support; guidance; secure attachment; and responsiveness. Cold; distant; overcontrolling; ambiguous support; untrustworthy; focused on winning; inattentive; unresponsive; and rejecting. Opportunities to Belong Opportunities for meaningful inclusion, regardless of one’s gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disabilities; social inclusion, social engagement and integration; opportunities for sociocultural identity formation; and support for cultural and bicultural competence. Exclusion; marginalization; and intergroup conflict. Positive Social Norms Rules of behavior; expectations; injunctions; ways of doing things; values and morals; and obligations for service. Normlessness; anomie; laissez-faire practices; antisocial and amoral norms; norms that encourage violence; reckless behavior; consumerism; poor health practices; and conformity. Support for Efficacy and Mattering Youth-based; empowerment practices that support autonomy; making a real difference in one’s community; and being taken seriously. Practices that include enabling; responsibility granting; and meaningful challenge. Practices that focus on improvement rather than on relative current performance levels. Unchallenging; overcontrolling; disempowering; and disabling. Practices that undermine motivation and desire to learn, such as excessive focus on current relativeperformance level rather than improvement.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development   Descriptors Opposite Poles Opportunities for Skill Building Opportunities to learn physical, intellectual, psychological, emotional, and social skills; exposure to intentional learning experiences; opportunities to learn cultural literacies, media literacy, communication skills, and good habits of mind; preparation for adult employment; and opportunities to develop social and cultural capital. Practice that promotes bad physical habits and habits of mind; and practice that undermines school and learning. Integration of Family, School, and Community Efforts Concordance; coordination; and synergy among family, school, and community. Discordance; lack of communication; and conflict. promote both current adolescent well-being and future successful transitions to adulthood. Serving Diverse Youth at the Community Level Many different individual organizations provide community programs for youth; each has its own unique approach and activities. How communities organize youth policies, as well as support individual programs, also varies from community to community. For example, the organizing body might be the mayor’s office, a local government agency, or a community foundation. A private intermediary organization or an individual charismatic leader, such as a minister or a rabbi, might also organize such efforts. However, it is often the case that there is no single person or group that is responsible for either monitoring the range and quality of community programs for youth or making sure that information about community programs is easily accessible to members of the community. Conclusion Adolescents who spend time in communities that are rich in developmental opportunities for them experience less risk and show evidence of higher rates of positive development. A diversity of program

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development opportunities in each community is more likely to support broad adolescent development and attract the interest of and meet the needs of a greater number of youth. Community programs for youth differ in their objectives, design, approach, and focus, and some may choose to emphasize certain program features over others. Even with the best staff and best funding, no single program can necessarily serve all young people or incorporate all of the features of positive developmental settings. The complexities of adolescent development and the increasing diversity of the country make the heterogeneity of young people in communities both a norm and a challenge. Therefore, effective programs must be flexible enough to adapt to this diversity among the young people they serve and the communities in which they operate. Recommendation 2—Communities should provide an ample array of program opportunities that appeal to and meet the needs of diverse youth, and should do so through local entities that can coordinate such work across the entire community. Particular attention should be placed on programs for disadvantaged and underserved youth. Recommendation 3—To increase the likelihood that an ample array of program opportunities will be available, communities should put in place some locally appropriate mechanism for monitoring the availability, accessibility, and quality of programs for youth in their community. Recommendation 4—Private and public funders should provide the resources needed at the community level to develop and support community-wide programming that is orderly, coordinated, and evaluated in reasonable ways. In addition to support at the community level, this is likely to involve support for intermediary organizations and collaborative teams that include researchers, practitioners, funders, and policy makers. RESEARCH, EVALUATION, AND DATA COLLECTION The multiple groups concerned about community programs for youth—policy makers, families, program developers and practitioners, program staff, and young people themselves—have in common the desire to know whether programs make a difference in the lives of young people, their families, and their communities. Some are interested in

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development learning about the effectiveness of specific details in a program; some about the effects of a given program; some about the overall effect of a set of programs together; and others about the effects of related kinds of programs. Research, program evaluation, and social indicator data can help improve the design and delivery of programs, and in doing so can play a significant role in answering such questions and improving the well-being and future success of young people. Research The committee first reviewed research on both adolescent development and the features of positive developmental settings that support it. In both cases, the research base is just becoming comprehensive enough to allow for tentative conclusions about the individual assets that characterize positive development and features of settings that support it. The committee used a variety of criteria to suggest the tentative lists of both important individual-level assets and features of settings that support positive development outlined in Box ES-1 and Table ES-1. These suggestions are based on scientific evidence from short- and long-term experimental and observational studies, one-time large-scale survey studies, and longitudinal survey studies reviewed by the committee. However, much more comprehensive work is needed. Conclusions More comprehensive longitudinal research, that either builds on current efforts or involves new efforts, is needed on a wider range of populations that follows children and adolescents well into adulthood in order to understand which assets are most important to adolescent development and which patterns of assets are linked to particular types of successful adult transitions in various cultural contexts. Despite its limitations, research in all settings in the lives of adolescents—families, schools, and communities—is yielding consistent evidence that there are specific features of settings that support positive youth development and that these features can be incorporated into community programs In the committee’s judgment, current evidence supports the replication of a few specific integrated programs for positive youth development: the Teen Outreach Program, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Quantum Opportunities are three prime examples.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development Very few integrated programs have received the kind of comprehensive experimental evaluation necessary to make a firm recommendation about replicating the program in its entirety across the country. However, there is sufficient evidence from a variety of sources to make recommendations about fundamental principles of supportive developmental settings and some specific aspects of programs that can be used to design community programs for youth. These are captured by the features of supportive settings outlined in Table ES-1. Recommendation 5—Federal agencies that fund research on adolescent health, development, and well-being, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education, should build into their portfolios new or more comprehensive longitudinal and experimental research on the personal and social assets needed to promote the healthy development and well-being of adolescents and to promote the successful transition from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. Recommendation 6—Public and private funders should support research on whether the features of positive developmental settings identified in this report are the most important features of community programs for youth. This research should encourage program design and implementation that meets the diverse needs of an increasingly heterogeneous population of youth. Program Evaluation Evaluation and ongoing program study can provide important insights to inform program design, selection, and modification. Program evaluation can also help funders and policy makers make informed choices about which programs to fund for which groups of youth. The desire to conduct high-quality evaluation can help program staff clarify their objectives and decide which types of evidence will be most useful in determining if these objectives have been met. Ongoing program study and evaluation can also be used by program staff, program participants, and funders to track program objectives; this is typically done by establishing a system for ongoing data collection that measures the extent to which various aspects of the programs are being delivered, how are they delivered, who is providing these services, and who is receiving these services. Such information can provide useful information to program

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development staff to help them make changes to improve program effectiveness. Finally, program evaluation can test both new and very well developed program designs by assessing the immediate, observable results of the program outcomes and benefits associated with participation in the program. Such summative evaluation can be done in conjunction with strong theory-based evaluation or as a more preliminary assessment of the potential usefulness of novel programs and quite complex social experiments in which there is no well-specified theory of change. In other words, program evaluation and study can help foster accountability, determine whether programs make a difference, and provide staff with the information they need to improve service delivery. Clearly there are many purposes for evaluation. Not surprisingly then, there are different opinions among service practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and funders about the most appropriate and useful methods for evaluating community programs for youth. In part, these disagreements reflect different goals and different questions about youth programs. They also reflect philosophical differences about the purposes of evaluation and nature of program development. Program practitioners, policy makers, program evaluators, and others studying programs should decide exactly which questions they want answered before deciding on the most appropriate methods. The most comprehensive experimental evaluation, which involves assessment of the quality of implementation as well as outcomes, is quite expensive and involves a variety of methods. It also provides the most comprehensive information regarding both the effectiveness of specific programs and the reasons for their effectiveness. Conclusions Very few high-quality comprehensive experimental evaluations of community programs for youth have adequately assessed the impact of the programs on adolescents. Some high-quality experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations show positive effects on a variety of outcomes, including both increases in the psychological and social assets of youth and decreases in the incidence of such problem behaviors as early pregnancy, drug use, and delinquency. Experimental designs are still the best method for estimating the impact of a program on its participants and should be used when this is the goal of the evaluation.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development Comprehensive program evaluation is an even better way to gather complete information about programs. It requires asking a number of questions through various methods. The committee identified six fundamental questions that should be considered in comprehensive evaluations: Is the theory of the program that is being evaluated explicit and plausible? How well has the program theory been implemented in the sites studied? In general, is the program effective and, in particular, is it effective with specific subpopulations of young people? Whether it is or is not effective, why is this the case? What is the value of the program? What recommendations about action should be made? All six questions may not be answered well in one study; several evaluative studies may be needed to address these questions. Thus comprehensive experimental evaluation can be quite expensive and time-consuming—but provides the most information about program design, as well as fundamental questions about human development. Thus, it is particularly useful to both the policy and research communities, as well as the practice community. In order to generate the kind of information about community programs for youth needed to justify large-scale expenditures on programs and to further fundamental understanding of the role of community programs in youth development, comprehensive experimental program evaluations should be used when: the object of study is a program component that repeatedly occurs across many of the organizations currently providing community services to youth; an established national organization provides the program being evaluated through many local affiliates; and theoretically sound ideas for a new demonstration program or project emerge, and pilot work indicates that these ideas can be implemented in other contexts. Comprehensive experimental evaluations are not appropriate for newer, less established programs or programs that lack a well-articulated

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development theory of change underlying the program design. A variety of nonexperimental methods, such as interviewing, case studies, and observational techniques, and more focused experimental and quasi-experimental studies are ways to understand and assess these types of community programs for youth. Although the nonexperimental methods tell us less about the effectiveness of particular community programs than experimental program evaluations, they can, when carefully implemented, provide information about the strengths and weakness in program implementation and can be used to identify patterns of effective practice. They are also quite helpful in generating hypotheses about why programs fail. Programs that meet the following criteria should be studied through nonexperimental or more focused experimental and quasi-experimental methods, depending on the goals of the evaluation: An organization, program, project, or program element that has not matured sufficiently in terms of its philosophy and implementation; The evaluation has to be conducted by the staff of the program under evaluation; The major questions of interest pertain to the quality of the program theory, the implementation of that theory, or to the nature of its participants, staff, or surrounding context; The program is quite broad, involving multiple agencies in the same community; and The program or organization is interested in reflective practice and continuing improvement. Whether experimental or nonexperimental methods are used, high-quality, comprehensive evaluation is important to the future development and success of community programs for youth and should be used by all programs and youth-serving organizations. Recommendation 7—All community programs for youth should undergo evaluation—possibly multiple evaluations—to improve design and implementation, to create accountability, and to assess outcomes and impacts. For any given evaluation, the scope and the rigor should be appropriately calibrated to the attributes of the program, the available resources, and the goals of the evaluation.

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development Recommendation 8—Funders should provide the necessary funds for evaluation. In many cases, this will involve support for collaborative teams of researchers, evaluators, theoreticians, policy makers, and practitioners to ensure that programs are well designed initially and then evaluated in the most appropriate way. Data Collection and Social Indicators Over the past decade, social indicator data and technical assistance resources have become increasingly important tools that community programs can employ to support every aspect of their work—from initial planning and design, to tracking goals, program accountability, targeting services, reflection, and improvement. There are now significant data and related technical assistance resources to aid in understanding the young people involved in these programs. Community programs for youth benefit from ready access to high-quality data that allow them to assess and monitor the well-being of youth in their community, the well-being of youth they directly serve, and the elements of their programs that are intended to support those youth. They also benefit from information and training to help them use these data tools wisely and effectively. Conclusion Even when exploited to their full potential, administrative, vital statistics, and related data sources can cover only limited geographic areas and only some components of a youth development framework. Adding local survey data in diverse communities, as has been done in a number of states and individual communities, can help create a more complete picture. Community programs for youth are interested in building their capacity to assess the quality of their programs. To produce useful process evaluations, performance monitoring, and self-assessment, however, program practitioners need valid, reliable indicators and measures of the developmental quality of the experiences they provide. Such information would also facilitate the ability of communities to monitor change over time as new program initiatives are introduced into the community. If communities know how their youth are doing on a variety of indicators for an extended period of time both before and after a new program

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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development is introduced, they can use this information as preliminary evidence that their program is effective. Such inferences are strengthened if information on the same indicators is available in comparable communities that did not introduce that program at the same time. Research is needed to determine whether appropriate indicators vary depending on the characteristics of the specific youth population served by a program and as understanding of the determinants of positive youth development improves, these indicators should be periodically revisited and, if necessary, revised. Many community programs also lack staff knowledge and the funds to take full advantage of social indicators as tools to aid in planning, monitoring, assessing, and improving program activities. Individual programs and communities would benefit from opportunities to improve their capacity to collect and use social indicator data. Recommendation 9—Public and private funders should support the fielding of youth development surveys in more states and communities around the country; the development, testing, and fielding of new youth development measures that work well across diverse population subgroups; and greater coordination between measures used in community surveys and national longitudinal surveys. Recommendation 10—Public and private funders should support collaboration between researchers and the practice community to develop social indicator data that build understanding of how programs are implemented and improve the ability to monitor programs. Collaborative efforts would further the understanding of the relationship between program features and positive developmental outcomes among young people. Recommendation 11—Public and private funders should provide opportunities for individual programs and communities to increase their capacity to collect and use social indicator data. This requires better training for program staff and more support for national and regional intermediaries that provide technical assistance in a variety of ways, including Internet-based systems.