Positive Youth Development

  • The Critical Need for Positive Indicators of Child Development
    Human development includes positive and negative developmental processes. Too often, researchers have focused on negative developmental behaviors alone, which provide an incomplete picture of factors that ultimately combine to affect child outcomes. There is a critical need to monitor positive development among children and youth, as well. As part of its Flourishing Children Project, Child Trends has added new resources on Positive Indicators of child development to its website. Child Trends has developed rigorous national indicators of flourishing among children and youth for inclusion in national surveys, research studies, and program evaluations.

  • Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes: The Importance of Emotional Support for Mothers
    Raising children can be difficult for any parent, but parents who experience social and economic disadvantages may face additional challenges. This research brief from Child Trends examines the link between emotional support mothers receive in rearing their children, and their children’s development. Child Trends found that emotional support for mothers improves outcomes for children, even when controlling for family structure, income, gender, race/ethnicity, and child’s age. Children whose mothers reported receiving emotional support during childrearing were more likely to be engaged in school and exhibit social competence than children whose mothers did not receive emotional support. The same pattern held true for internalizing behaviors – children were less likely to display internalizing behaviors if their mothers had emotional support. Findings from this brief suggest that providing emotional support for mothers may serve to protect children in both disadvantaged and advantaged families from negative outcomes. (February 2012)
  • An Analysis of States' Child and Family Services Reviews and Program Improvement Plans from a Youth Development Perspective
    This paper, written by the National Resource Center for Youth Development, presents an analysis of issues, relating specifically to adolescents, identified in the final Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) reports and the Program Improvement Plans (PIPs). The report analyzed reports for the presence of youth related issues and explores their ramification in the PIP process.

  • Youth Development Programs and Educationally Disadvantaged Older Youths: A Synthesis
    Educationally disadvantaged older youths have frequently been overlooked by policy makers and practitioners who design programs and services for young people. This synthesis from Child Trends examines the role that programs specifically designed for this population can play in promoting positive youth development and subsequent self-sufficiency in adulthood. Many former foster youth are among the educationally disadvantaged population.

  • Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs
    This report, prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services by the Social Development Research Group (SDRG) at the University of Washington, examined existing evaluations of positive youth development programs and summarized the state of the field. (1998)

  • Positive Development: Realizing the Potential of Youth
    The January 2004 volume of the Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences is devoted to positive youth development. You can find a “quick read synopsis” of its contents online at the above link.

  • Guide to Federal Resources for Youth Development
    A group of federal departments with funding for youth come together in this catalog of financial resources for children and youth. It lists more than 100 federal programs cross-referenced to five core resources regarded as crucial to effective youth development.

  • Improving Public Health Through Youth Development
    New York's Department of Health has posted a supplement to the November 2006 Journal of Public Health Management and Practice that deals with youth development and its relation to public health. The supplement instructs public health practitioners and policymakers in the importance of youth development, and guides them in creating effective youth development programs.
  • Speak Up! Using What You’ve Got to Get What You Want
    This interactive video, developed by the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth, encourages young people to speak up and advocate for themselves at the doctor's office, at school, at work or in common situations they may face. Youth are asked to think about—and type out—their goals, the steps they need to take to reach their goals, and who they might enlist to help them. If they choose, young people can receive an e-mail as a reminder of what was covered in the video.


  • Agency Self-Assessment
    The Agency Self-Assessment (ASA) from Casey Family Programs is a strengths-based and comprehensive reporting tool for public and private child welfare agencies, community-based organizations, program administrators, juvenile justice systems, and others concerned with positive youth development. The self-administered ASA will help states and counties to: Determine what they know about their independent living services and the effectiveness in improving the lives of current and former foster youth; Identify gaps in their data collection and analyses to ensure maximum utility of data for aggregation and reporting; and Utilize their data reports to start, stop, redirect, or improve specific independent living services for youth.

  • CART: Compendium of Assessment and Research Tools for Measuring Education and Youth Development Outcomes
    CART is a compendium of assessments and research tools designed to assist those who have an interest in studying the effectiveness of youth development programs and related educational activities. When you search the CART database, you can locate research tools that address an area of focus you are interested in studying. You will find a brief description of the instruments, the target population for the instrument, contact information for acquiring the instrument, other parameters that should guide its use.

  • Youth Development Worker Competencies
    The National Collaboration for Youth, a coalition of more than forty national agencies, which together reach over 40 million youth annually, has established a common set of core competencies for paid and volunteer staff who work with youth. The list of ten competencies applies to front-line youth development staff. Each competency has several examples to guide organizations.

  • Engaging Youth: A How-To Guide for Creating Opportunities for Young People to Participate, Lead and Succeed
    The goals of this paper from the Sierra Health Foundation are: 1) to provide an overview of youth leadership and why it is important; 2) to share some of the best practices from organizations that successfully implement youth leadership opportunities; and 3) to provide in a supplemental booklet an introductory catalogue of the youth leadership opportunities that exist in the greater Sacramento region.

  • Putting Positive Youth Development Into Practice: A Resource Guide
    This guide from the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth was conceived to provide those interested in youth development with a solid understanding of the theory behind the PYD approach, as well as practical advice for launching and running programs that support the positive development of young people.

  • Positive Youth Development Resource Manual
    The purpose of this manual from ACT for Youth is to provide user-friendly resources and tools to community members and professionals who want to promote positive youth development in their communities. The materials can be used to educate community groups and service providers about positive youth development with the ultimate goal of facilitating organizational and community change. The manual includes training activities, handouts, brief power point presentations and references to other resources.


  • Adolescent Issues: Risk, Resiliency, and Positive Youth Development
    This curriculum from the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program is designed to prepare participants to: Recognize the ecological contexts in which adolescents develop; Define the multiple factors, including risks and resiliency that influence adolescent development; and Apply knowledge of positive youth development, adolescent development, and cultural competence to interventions with youth.


  • Adolescent Services Resource Network
    Funded by the New York State Office of Children and Families and the New York City Administration for Children's Services, the Adolescent Services Resource Network at the Hunter College School of Social Work is a training, technical assistance, and information resource center dedicated to increasing the knowledge and skills of child welfare staff working with youth 14-21 in foster care.

  • Forum for Youth Investment
    is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are Ready by 21™ — ready for college, work and life. This goal requires that young people have the supports, opportunities and services needed to prosper and contribute where they live, learn, work, play and make a difference. The Forum provides youth and adult leaders with the information, technical assistance, training, network support and partnership opportunities needed to increase the quality and quantity of youth investment and youth involvement.

  • Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development
    ICYD is a state-led interagency initiative designed to better align policies and programs and to encourage collaboration among multiple state and community agencies on youth-related issues. The goals of the initiative are to promote the use of positive youth development principles in state policies and programs and to facilitate the use of effective youth development practices in communities throughout Iowa.

  • National Resource Center for Youth Development
    The NRCYD at the University of Oklahoma is a federally funded Center that increases the capacity and resources of States and Tribes to effectively help youth in care establish permanent connections and achieve successful transitions to adulthood.

  • National Girls Initiative
    The National Girls Initiative (NGI) is a comprehensive strategy for promoting the positive development of girls and young women in the United States. Girls and young women develop in unique and powerful ways. They have distinct strengths and needs that require a specialized focus when working in their behalf. Recognizing this, the Child Welfare League of America established NGI to promote the optimal development and well-being of girls and young women.

  • Youth Leadership Advisory Team
    The Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) is a team of Maine youth in care (in state custody), ages 14-21, engaged in the education of the government, general public, caregivers, and peers regarding the needs of children and young adults in the child welfare system. Advocating for positive changes in the child welfare system, YLAT members help develop, guide, and revise the Bureau of Child and Family Services policies in order to create safety, comfort, and opportunities for all kids in care.

  • National Youth Development Information Center
    A one-stop website for youth workers with interest in any and all of the following areas: funding, programming, research, policy, job and training opportunities. NYDIC also provides current news to the youth development field and has a large online library providing practice-related information at low-cost or no cost.

  • Youth Services and Positive Youth Development
    The Child Welfare League of America's Youth Services department is committed to achieving positive outcomes for young people through programming, services, and supports that contribute to the positive development of youth and young adults--especially those involved in the child welfare system. Their critical issues page contains position statements developed by the National Foster Youth Advisory Council.

  • John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
    This Center at Stanford University represents a partnership between the university and local communities to build new knowledge, practices and capacity for community youth development. The Gardner Center facilitates connections and partnerships among and between community organizations, schools, local government and other community institutions to inform positive changes in programs, practices and policies that lead to more equitable, inclusive and productive environments for youth.

  • Youth Service America
    YSA is a resource center that partners with thousands of organizations committed to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people, ages 5-25, to serve locally, nationally, and globally. Founded in 1986, YSA's mission is to expand the impact of the youth service movement with communities, schools, corporations, and governments.

  • FindYouthInfo.gov
    FindYouthInfo.gov was created by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP), which is composed of representatives from 12 Federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on youth. Through the Youth Topics series, IWGYP provides information, strategies, tools, and resources for youth, families, schools and community organizations related to a variety of cross-cutting topics that affect youth, including Positive Youth Development.



Last updated 2/6/13