• July/August 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 6

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The Shared Youth Vision: Collaboration at All Levels

Imagine a collaboration that extends from some of the largest Federal agencies down through State and community service programs, all focused on helping the most vulnerable youth make a successful transition to adulthood. That's the mission of the Shared Youth Vision, an initiative that grew out of a 2003 White House Task Force Report on Disadvantaged Youth. Citing the need for better coordination and communication among youth-serving agencies, the report led to the Shared Youth Vision so that "the Nation's neediest youth will acquire the talents, skills, and knowledge necessary to ensure their healthy transition to successful adult roles and responsibilities." The initiative places a special emphasis on ensuring that youth are educated and prepared to join the workforce.

The Federal partnership among the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and others promotes collaborative approaches to serving youth through outreach and the development of strategies, training, and tools and resources. Since 2004, the Shared Youth Vision has sponsored Regional Youth Forums, technical assistance initiatives, Regional meetings, and other opportunities for States and local jurisdictions to make connections and exchange ideas. A series of webinars have focused on self-assessment tools for youth-serving organizations, promising practices from the field, and resource and gap mapping.

In 2006, the Federal partnership funded 16 States to begin Shared Youth Vision collaborations and activities at the State and local levels. State teams, mirroring the Federal partnership, have worked for the last 2 years to plan and implement statewide Shared Youth Vision activities to serve the neediest youth. More recently, these funded States have begun to mentor other States in beginning their own Shared Youth Vision collaborations and activities. An implementation study is underway, as States continue to expand their partnerships to reach out to the most vulnerable youth and ensure that they make successful transitions to adulthood.

The original 16 State teams were drawn from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah. New States now being mentored include Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

State teams have implemented pilot programs that focus on a variety of system reform efforts, ranging from sharing data and information to leveraging resources. When gaps in service are identified, teams seek new partners, public or private, to fill the gaps. Youth in foster care should be the big winners of these activities, since the majority of State teams have selected these youth as their target population.

To provide training and technical assistance to these efforts, the Federal partnership selected the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development to set up a Solutions Desk portal and serve as a general resource. The Solutions Desk also hosts monthly dialog calls, publishes a monthly e-newsletter, and maintains a listserv. The web portal is now available for all States to share information, find resources and help for their youth collaborations activities, and post policy questions directly to the Federal Partnership. Visit the web portal at
www.nrcys.ou.edu/yd/solutionsdesk.

For one example of a State's Shared Youth Vision initiative, visit the Minnesota Shared Youth Vision Activities website:
www.deed.state.mn.us/youth/SYV/SYV.htm

To read more about the Shared Youth Vision at the Federal level, visit the website:
www.doleta.gov/ryf/

Dorothy Ansell at the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development contributed to this article.

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