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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
foundations, both national and local, for infrastructure to assist with staff development, research, and evaluation, in addition to program activities. Some of the foundation initiatives reflected a more three-dimensional emphasis around the family, schools, and community on youth development that the latest government efforts have lacked.
Although the recent surge of interest in out-of-school activities is gratifying, it is still limited in scope. While a series of national policies on youth development, including get-tough criminal justice policies related to youthful offenders, exist in disjointed form, there is as yet no broad, positive national policy for youth development. Even the new funding, substantial as it is, is modest compared with the number of children who need assistance (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000a). If there is one barrier above all others to an ample supply of high-quality community programs for children whose parents cannot afford to pay for them, it is the lack of reliable, stable funding streams to support them. It seems that parents are still the major funders of after-school programs, which means that many children, particularly those in lower-income families, are not served. The lack of consistent and sufficient funding leads to other barriers: untrained staff, low pay, high turnover, and inadequate facilities.
Nevertheless, what was previously a nonsystem is now moving toward becoming a formal system, with increased attention to programs that support adolescent development and to the importance of supporting adolescents by supporting families, schools, and communities. The response is still riddled with gaps, especially along lines of income and race, but governments at all levels that previously resisted funding activities during out-of-school hours have become involved to an unprecedented degree. Stable institutional mechanisms to support and ensure quality are still not in place, but the number of young people being reached seems to have increased. We do not have an overarching national policy to promote positive youth development, but a youth development field is closer to reality than it was five years ago.
This chapter reviews the multiple and varied sources of funding available to community programs for youth and discuss other nonfinancial institutional support for these programs. It is by no means a comprehensive summary, but rather serves as evidence of the financial and political support that exists for the development and continuation of current and future program efforts.