• July/August 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 6

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Preventing Youth Disconnectedness

A white paper by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy takes a new perspective on youth disconnectedness by focusing on ways to prevent disconnection in the first place and engage youth before it is too late. The study examined youth in New York State about to age out of the child welfare or mental health systems and at risk of becoming disconnected or disengaged from society. In 2005, 8 percent of New York's 16-19 year olds were not working and not in school.

To address these daunting challenges, the Schuyler Center convened two workgroups with key stakeholders that included agency representatives, advocates, and city youth. The workgroups formulated a series of principles for preventing youth disconnectedness, including:

  • Adequate family-centered systems of care
  • Youth empowerment through the development of problem-solving skills
  • Care coordination among all agencies that come into contact with children and youth
  • Concurrent planning between systems
  • Constancy of relationships between service providers and youth
  • Integration of mental health services in school settings
  • Early and effective intervention

The workgroups also made 18 recommendations to promote cross-system collaboration, including the establishment of a central coordination point, more training for human services workers, and empowerment of youth. The paper cites three initiatives as examples of successful cross-system collaboration:

  • The Child and Family Clinic Plus program, which offers mental health and wellness screening for children in school settings
  • The Children’s Cabinet, which is a group of State agencies working to strengthen State systems
  • The Children’s Mental Health Act, which gives school districts the opportunity to implement a mental heath plan for children

To read Disconnected Youth: An Answer to Preventing Disengagement, by Jenn O’Connor, visit:

www.scaany.org/documents/disconnected_youth_whitepaper_000.pdf (PDF - 239 KB)

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