The Youth Development Council was created to support Oregon’s education system by developing state policy and administering funding to community and school-based youth development programs, services, and initiatives for youth ages 6-24 in a manner that supports educational success, and career and workforce development with a focus on Positive Youth Development, and is integrated, measurable and accountable.
The Youth Development Council (YDC) was created by House Bill 4165 in 2012 and further developed in House Bill 3231 in 2013 to build a seamless system. The Council’s mandate: to help youth who face barriers to education and the workforce get back on the path to high school graduation, college and/or career.
The Council ensures implementation of best practices that are evidence based; are culturally, gender and age appropriate; address individual risk factors and build upon factors that improve the health and well-being of children and youth; and includes tribal best practices.
The Council advocates for youth in Oregon, including changes needed in state law, policy and state funding for programs and services that support youth education, career/workforce development, and juvenile crime prevention using principles of positive youth development.
- Youth-Inclusive: To advocate, question, challenge and be informed by the perspectives of youth who are served by our systems.
- Access: Ensure equitable access to programs and services and equitable outcomes across diverse youth populations.
- Equity & Inclusion: Value and rely on multiple diverse perspectives for information and guidance in decision making.
- Respect: Respect persons without partiality or bias.
- Recognize: Recognize unique forms of government and sovereignty of nations in our partnerships for service delivery.
- Evidence-Based: Support and fund programs and practices that are based upon sound research and proven application.
- Performance-Based: Support and fund programs with best practices, promising practices and those with practiced-based, demonstrated results
- Results-Oriented: Define, evaluate and measure programs based upon successful academic, workforce, high risk prevention, and program quality outcomes.
- Systems Thinking: Approach our work with youth programs as part of a continuum of services.
- Innovation: Actively support new and innovative models and approaches for funding and developing programs that support academic improvement for Oregon’s youth.
- Positive Youth Development Framework: The foundation for the Unified Systems’ Approach used across all YDC funding areas: School Engagement and Success, Career and Workforce Development, and Juvenile Crime Prevention.
- Sustainable Approach: Encourage leveraging and funding support in order to ensure that programs endure beyond initial YDC investments.
Focus on Opportunity and Priority Youth
The Youth Development Council focuses its efforts on two groups of young people. Opportunity Youth are young people ages 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor force. Research suggests that failing to engage these youth will not only negatively impact the future trajectory of the young people, but will result in an economic loss to society. This loss comes in the form of an increased general tax burden, as well as an increased level of social burden. Nearly 59,000 youth are Opportunity Youth in Oregon. The Council also focuses on Priority Youth, those young people ages 6 to 15 who are at risk of disconnecting from the education system, already disconnected from the education system, or at risk of being unable to transition successfully to the labor force. The number of Priority Youth is staggering, with an estimated more than 200,000 Oregon youth falling into this category. Intervening to change the trajectory of Opportunity Youth and Priority Youth is critical to the foundation of the Youth Development Council’s approach.
Addressing Barriers to Learning
In Oregon, the mechanism that has been developed to support youth within the education system is the Youth Development Council. Our approach is to develop statewide policy and fund community-based programs, services, and initiatives for high-needs youth that reduce barriers to learning and succeeding in life. As youth learners continue to navigate their path through the education system and transition to the labor force, it is the Council’s role to identify youth who may be starting to disconnect, or who already have, and to develop and support the mechanisms necessary to reduce the risk of disconnection or to establish reconnection.
Changing Funding Priorities and Program Strategies
The Youth Development Council’s approach also focuses on making policy recommendations related to services and resources needed to achieve the Oregon Chief Education Office and governor’s priorities related to youth development and success. By funding community interventions statewide and evaluating the results, the Youth Development Council will engage in a process of continual learning that informs the development of public policies that inform funding priorities and effective program strategies.
Systems’ Alignment to Create Leverage
At the core of the Youth Development Council’s work is the belief that there is a need to better align the diverse systems serving youth in Oregon. Uncoordinated systems increase the likelihood of inefficiency and redundancy, and create gaps through which many Opportunity and Priority Youth fall. Systems’ alignment across education, social service, juvenile justice, healthcare, and workforce development systems is essential to create opportunity for all youth.
Focus on Equity
The Youth Development Council also brings an equity lens to it work. The focus of our equity is on students who systems have placed at risk because of their race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, differently abled-ness, and geographic location. In funding, programs, and inclusion, equity is essential to the Council’s decision-making process. All programs must be based on emerging research related to culturally responsive program adaptation to ensure relevancy across the spectrum of diverse youth we serve.