The Official Blog of the Youth Transition Funders Group

Hosted by Chris Sturgis, Strategic Advisor to YTFG

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More News from the Foster Care Work Group

Things are hopping in the efforts to improve the lives of youth in the foster system. Thanks to Mary Bissell of Child Focus and the facilitator of YTFG’s Foster Care Work Group for providing this update.

Advancing the Well-Being Framework

Mary Lee
1) Well-Being Presentation at the National Summit on Authentic Youth Engagement: At the national conference on August 5-6 in Chicago hosted by Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative with its partners, the Andrus Family Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, Aisha van Ter Sluis, Mary Lee, Jennifer Miller, and Sue Badeau engaged in a dialogue with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Youth Fellows about youth perspectives on well-being.

The Youth Fellows gave FCWG members extremely useful feedback on what “well-being” meant to them when they were in care and specific ideas on how the work group’s well-being framework can be applied to support youth still in and transitioning from care. Potential ideas included an “inventory” for young people and their caseworkers to help assess their well-being; video clips of young people talking about what well-being means to them; workshops, trainings, and products that help young people and adults bridge the gap in how they think about well-being for youth in foster care; and trainings for social workers to have the well-being discussion with young people. We will discuss these and other ideas about a youth guided well-being agenda in the coming months. 

In the meantime, some memorable quotes from the Youth Fellows:

•    Well-being is a journey, not a destination; 
•    Well-being is when you stop surviving and start living;
•    Well-being is when I feel like everyone else and can just be like everyone else; 
•    In foster care, well-being is sacrificed at the altar of safety;
•    Letting people help you is not giving up control – well-being is knowing it’s OK to ask for help; 
•    Well-being is being able to navigate life spaces – knowing how to act socially and professionally; 
•    Well-being is about exposure --the opportunity to see what else is really out there.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Federal Legislative Update From the Foster Care Work Group

Thanks to Mary Bissell of Child Focus and the facilitator of YTFG’s Foster Care Work Group for this great update!

Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980): On July 23, the House of Representatives approved the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act by a voice vote. Some of provisions of most relevance for FCWG include the following: supporting normalcy for children in foster care by implementing a “prudent parenting standard”; eliminating APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement) as a case plan goal; and requiring child welfare agencies to provide key documents, including a birth certificate, Social Security card, and bill of rights, to all children aging out of care. For a complete legislative history, along with descriptions of past versions of the bill, click here. The provisions of this bill were agreed to in conference committee with the Senate Finance Committee, so advocates were hopeful that it would pass the Senate before Congressional recess. However, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has put a formal hold on the bill. Once the Senate returns from recess in September, Senator Coburn must either lift his hold or the bill must be scheduled for a vote.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ideas for Action In a Time of Worry

Michael Brown
There are a lot of reasons to worry about young people right now. The young people traveling the continent– will they be sent back to face the violence once again? The young people in Ferguson – are they safe from their own police? It’s not always easy to know what to do, but we know we have to do something. Here is just a quick peek at some ideas for action.

Unaccompanied Minors

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Diana Campoamor, president of Hispanics in Philanthropy, calls for the following to address the needs of unaccompanied minors:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reconnecting Youth – A Grand Strategy a la Early Childhood?

Andrew O. Moore
This post was written by Andrew O. Moore, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Youth, Education and Families at the National League of Cities.

What this country needs is a grand strategy to mobilize resources, policy, and public will to reengage 5.8 million disconnected youth in education, jobs, and civic life. Grand strategy is likely what the Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG) and Campaign for Youth envisioned in their founding moments some 10 years ago.

Could the October 1 gathering of the Opportunity Youth Network provide a venue to elaborate a refreshed grand strategy? Many YTFG and Campaign for Youth members will attend.

Friday, August 15, 2014

When Graduation Feels like Failing: A Diploma of Completion, but Not Competence

Originally posted Aug. 14, 2014 by Ready by 21. Author Stephanie Malia Krauss is
Stephanie Malia Krauss

a Senior Fellow at The Forum For Youth Investment focusing on issues of youth readiness and competency-based education. She was previously President and chief executive officer of Shearwater Education Foundation.


There is a distinct gap between what it takes to make it to graduation and being ready for adulthood.

I remember looking from one staff person to another. I saw confusion, anger, outright indignation and then I found my own face, hiding in the expressions of a few—a deep sense of regret and shame that came with an acknowledged truth. Just moments before, in the privacy of my office, I had practiced all that I wanted to say but it was even harder than I imagined to say it aloud.

“If we have not failed him now, we’ve just failed him later. Please, do not ever put me in a position where I am asked to stand in front of our community and our students’ families to award a diploma to someone who is not ready.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Do Your City Leaders Need to Get Up to Speed on JJ?

My guess is that all the readers of Connected by 25 are pretty familiar with how to have a high quality juvenile justice system that is based on the principles of youth development. And my guess is that lots of our city and county leaders across the country don't realize that they are throwing public monies away when they rely on locking kids up as the only way to respond to delinquency. The National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education and Family Webinar Series on Juvenile Justice Reform might be the perfect way to help local leadership and their staff get up to speed.

Upcoming Webinar Series: Juvenile Justice Reform

City leaders interested in improving outcomes for youth and increasing public safety through juvenile justice reform are encouraged to participate in a series of webinars. Building on the success of the Juvenile Justice Reform Leadership Academy, the webinar series will:
  • Highlight locally-led community-based alternatives to arrest, prosecution and detention for youth
  • Provide concrete tools and guidelines for collecting and using data to drive city reforms
  • Will support cross-city sharing of policies, practices and ideas on these and other innovations 
Local leaders who participate in the webinars will join the growing Juvenile Justice Reform Peer Learning Network.

Welcome to Municipal Leadership for Juvenile Justice Reform
1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Thursday, August 14, 2014
This webinar will introduce city leaders to the concrete contributions cities can make to juvenile justice reform. Soledad McGrath, Program Officer for Justice Reform at the MacArthur Foundation, and Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute, will join NLC staff to outline city roles in juvenile justice reform and to discuss the importance of city leaders becoming engaged in the national movement to improve the juvenile justice system.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What’s Coming Down the Pike?

Vice President Joe Biden
(from whitehouse.gov)

The report Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, recently released by Vice President Joe Biden, provides insights into what to expect from the federal government. Since our focus at YTFG is on youth ranging in age from 14 to 24, I thought it would be a good idea to see what might be coming down the pike in the coming years.

After reading the report, I continue to believe that our country is still in a state of denial about what it really takes to support youth and what it is going to take to address the youth unemployment crisis. There is certainly attention being paid to innovation and better integration of services, but it’s just not enough. (I know, I know...I’m constantly repeating myself these days. "It’s just not enough” seems to be my mantra.)

Here are examples of what leaves me so concerned:

The US Department of Education is going to “Improve Adult Education Providers’ Efforts to Teach Employability Skills” (p. 42). According to the report, Adult Education programs serve 1.7 million youth and adults, with almost 50% in adult basic education (below high school), 40% in English language acquisition and 12% in adult secondary education. The report says, “ED will issue state plan guidance that will require states to address how they will incorporate employability skills development in the state plans they will submit in April in 2015.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

City by City

The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) announced four more cities making progress in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Syracuse, NY and Paterson, NJ are going to reduce the rates of suspension and Wake County, NC and Oakland, CA are establishing MOUs between law enforcement and schools. City by city, we are reversing the school pushout problem that has undermined our country’s efforts to improve academic achievement and high school graduation.

If your community hasn’t tackled the school-to-prison pipeline issue, you can join the National Week of Action Against School Pushout. Dignity in Schools wants to continue to raise awareness about the pushout crisis. The theme this year is Education is the Key! Don't Lock Us Out!

Below are updates from the four cities from the DSC. Congratulations to all the community leaders who are helping their districts realize that pushing out children is locking them out of college and careers.

On July 9, the Syracuse School Board approved an agreement to reduce out-of-school suspensions, implement alternative approaches to discipline, and ensure that schools reduce racial disparities and discrimination against children of all races and abilities. The great work of DSC member Center for Community Alternatives, along with other community allies, was instrumental in gaining this victory. The district will be required to revise its Code of Conduct, provide training to students and teachers, and ensure that parents understand their children's rights and responsibilities. You can read more here.