The Beat: Positive Youth Development

February 15, 2013

Book cover of Almost Home, showing a young person wearing a hoodie.“Almost Home: Helping Kids Move From Homelessness to Hope”
by Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley, with foreword by Cory Booker

The president of an international organization for homeless youth teams up with a New York Times reporter to tell the stories of young people who overcame homelessness. We think you’ll want to recommend this book to people you know.

Four years and eleven stays at a shelter for homeless teens. That’s how long it took for the teenaged Paulie to escape family abuse, drugs and homelessness and to follow his own path in kickboxing and restaurant work.

The ups and downs of Paulie’s story will be no surprise to those who work with homeless youth day in and day out. But people unfamiliar with youth homelessness...

February 13, 2013

Photograph of a young African American woman with young people training at computers behind her.Having the time to take a hard look at how you do things may seem like a luxury at youth-serving organizations. But a San Francisco foundation is trying to change that for a handful of nonprofits that serve runaway and homeless youth.

The John Burton Foundation’s Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project launched its yearlong Performance Management Training Series in 2011 with a cohort of seven programs serving counties with the highest rates of youth homelessness in southern California. The groups received professional development for staff, and training and coaching on the performance management approach to improving program quality. They also got $1,500 to spend on training, coaching, software or other purchases that might improve their ability to serve young people well. A...

February 12, 2013

Scenarios USA logo shows an image of a globe.As Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month continues, we want to highlight a way youth can share how they would respond to relationship violence.

The “You Gotta Do Something!” Youth Video Contest asks young people under age 21 to finish telling the story of Rob and Ashley, a fictional couple who get into a fight at a party. Youth enter the contest by watching a 14-minute video about Rob and Ashley on YouTube before creating their own video to show what happens next.

Young people must be sponsored by a youth worker or teacher to enter. Winning teams receive a set of educational films written by teens and filmed by professionals, or a gift certificate. The deadline to enter is noon Eastern on February 28, 2013.

The event is sponsored by Scenarios USA, which uses...

February 08, 2013

Image of a pyramid with words on it: Safe Environment, Supportive Environment, Peer Interaction, Youth Engagement.Ravi Ramaswamy is a former youth worker who has moved on to help other youth workers improve their programs. As training coordinator at the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality in Ypsilanti, MI, he helps youth-serving organizations implement the evidence-based Youth Program Quality Intervention.

The intervention starts with an assessment that staff themselves conduct to determine how well components of a program -- like a life skills class or a sexual health training, for example -- are promoting safety, support, peer interaction and youth engagement. Then they decide as a group where they want to work on program improvements.

Ramaswamy talked to us about how the Youth Program Quality Intervention gives...

February 07, 2013

Report cover of Youth and Work, a Kids Count policy report. Photos show young people working on a car, on a building, and on writing.Youth employment is at its lowest point since World War II, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT, an initiative that tracks the wellbeing of children and youth in the United States. That finding might not surprise youth workers who’ve tried to find a job for a homeless young person, but “Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity” (PDF, 2.39 MB) has a lot to say about what we can do to turn things around for young people, especially the more than 6.5 million 16- to 24-year-olds who aren’t in school and don’t have jobs.


February 04, 2013

In our latest podcast, we hear from Bill Martin, executive director of Waterford Country School, a Connecticut youth shelter that will soon finish the three-year implementation of the CARE Model. He talks about how this evidence-based practice enables Waterford to better serve youth.
Listen to the podcast.

January 31, 2013

Image of the book Girls Like Us.“Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale”
by Rachel Lloyd

In this memoir, a well-known advocate exposes the horrors of sex trafficking, and tells us what it will take to create a society that values and protects girls. NCFY read it, and we tell you why we think it’s a good read for youth workers.

Rachel Lloyd grew up in England with a depressive, alcoholic mother and her series of violent boyfriends. By 14, she had dropped out of school. Faking her age, she did factory work to keep a roof over their heads.

“The pressure to have a baby, at fourteen, already feels intense,” she writes in her memoir “Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale.” “The desire to create a family, to have someone who will love me,...

January 28, 2013

Book cover of Drugs: Shatter the MythsMarijuana is addictive. Adults who are hooked on cigarettes most likely started smoking as teens. Getting drunk or high could lead a teen to have unprotected sex. These are just a few facts about drugs that teens may not know.

National Drug Facts Week, which will be observed this year from January 28 to February 3, is an opportunity for youth workers to share with teens the truth about drugs and their consequences. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, sponsors the weeklong campaign each year to shatter common myths so teens can make informed decisions. Here are some ways you and your youth can participate:

Chat with NIDA scientists. Drug Facts Chat Day, to be held this year on...

January 23, 2013

Photograph of a teen mother holding her baby.You may have seen the headlines last fall: Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that girls with below-average reading ability went on to become teen mothers nearly twice as often as girls with average reading ability. The finding was presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting last year and will be published in the paper “Pre-Teen Literacy and Subsequent Teenage Childbearing in a U.S. Population,” forthcoming in the February 2013 volume of the journal Contraception.

We wanted to know more, especially about what the correlation between low literacy and teen parenthood means for youth workers. So we talked to co-writers Dr. Ian M. Bennett and Dr. Rosemarie Frasso, who studied...

January 22, 2013

Photograph of a red balloonIn our latest podcast, we talk to Dr. Carl Lejuez, a University of Maryland researcher who uses a video game to study why and when people take risks. We asked about his findings and their implications for traumatized youth.

Listen to the podcast.

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