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Youth Work VT

Lifelong success for young people demands cooperation and collaboration between all those who care for and about them. And while access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs will not solve all our problems, we will not be able to make meaningful progress on some of our most critical issues affecting Vermont kids and families–most especially those living in poverty, impacted by addiction, and/or affected by other adverse family experiences–without adequately addressing what is happening with our children and youth outside the school day and over the summer.

IT’S TIME TO JOIN FORCES AND TAKE ACTION.

In order to strengthen the policies, programs and services with and for all young people in Vermont, we are launching Youth Work VT. This is a collective, action-oriented group working in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for all youth, ages 9-26, so they can reach their full potential. Our goal is to build a more holistic approach to youth development; with an even stronger focus on youth voice and youth rights.

We believe such an approach would complement the strong focus we have in Vermont around early childhood and ensure that any gains made by early childhood investments are reinforced by a 9-29 counterpart. It would also help us to expand our conversations around young people beyond the formal education system (including rising per pupil costs) and look at how we can unite to support children, youth, and young adults across the whole continuum of development.

WHY 9-26?

We need to focus our attention on older youth for a number of reasons:

  • Peak Hours. On school days, the hours between 3-7 p.m. are the peak hours for youth to commit crimes, be in or cause an automobile accident, be victims of crime, smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.1
  • Dangerous Behaviors. Teens who do not participate in structured activities after school are nearly three times more likely to skip classes at school, experiment with drugs, and engage in sexual activity than teens who do participate.2
  • Nutrition. 17,890 (14%) children under the age of 18 in Vermont live in households that are struggling to keep food on the table. Programs that provide afterschool and summer meals and snacks make it easier for parents to make ends meet, and may be a child’s only chance to access nutritious food until the next school day.3
  • Critical Need for Support. Youth and families experiencing homelessness is on an upward trend. The number of child victims of abuse and neglect is rising as is the number of child and youth in foster care. According to the Vermont Youth Behavior Risk Survey (2015), the risk of youth suicide among middle and high school students is growing. In particular, young women, LGB, and racial minority students are significantly more likely to have attempted suicide or self harm.4,5,6
  • Lack of Opportunities Outside of School. Rural communities in Vermont offer limited funding and programming for this age group; teen centers often struggle to stay open.
  • Return on Investment. For every dollar spent on quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont gets back $2.18 in long-term savings from reduced criminal activity and substance abuse treatment, as well as accruing additional benefits from increased high school completion and work productivity.7

OUR YOUTH WORK

  • We are the state lead for the Weikart Center’s Youth Program Quality Intervention which includes program assessment and improvement focused on positive youth development and strengthening authentic youth engagement. We support this positive youth development model at more than 100 afterschool sites statewide.
  • Our newly launched Social Emotional Learning initiative aims to increase protective factors in the out-of-school time setting, as well as provides mental health consultation to afterschool programs.
  • We sponsored 113 professional development workshops statewide in FY2017. These trainings, facilitated by trainers with significant expertise in their topic areas, aimed to boost best practices for afterschool and expanded learning staff of all levels working with youth in grades K-12.
  • As Vermont’s voice for afterschool and summer in Montpelier and Washington, D.C., we advocate for state and federal policy that supports the expansion, affordability, and accessibility of afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs.
  • We have expertise connecting expanded learning opportunities to personalized learning plans. An APLS strand and Vermont Afterschool Conference workshop track in 2016-17 focused exclusively on this topic. Additionally, our current work-based learning grant from the McClure Foundation focuses on creating meaningful job and expanded learning opportunities for students across rural Vermont.

YOUTH RIGHTS SUMMIT

  • Youth Rights Summit participants sign a document recognizing their work in drafting a Youth Declaration of Rights on October 20, 2017.

    The Youth Rights Summit that we hosted in October 2017 brought together 38 youth ages 9-22 from across Vermont to draft a Vermont Youth Declaration of Rights. We also invite youth ambassadors to attend our Afterschool & Summer Learning Day each year. Check out last year’s video of youth ambassadors sharing their thoughts on why afterschool matters to them.

  • The question that framed the Youth Rights Summit was: What do you, as a young person in Vermont, need in order to be the best version of yourself? In response, the youth developed the framework for the rights, that categories, and all the wording. The only changes we made in the final document was to format it and to fix a few small spelling errors. Read a draft of the Youth Declaration of Rights here.
  • We presented the Youth Declaration of Rights to the Vermont Child Poverty Council on November 16th. The Declaration was also shared with partners at the Youth Work and Policy Partner meeting on December 5th and the Vermont Principals’ Association is planning to send the document to all public school principals in Vermont.

UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES

A new partnership group as been formed to discuss and advance Youth Work and Policy in Vermont. We look forward to working together to change the conversation around youth in Vermont and to do so in a way that brings forward youth voice and youth rights. Email Holly if you’d like to join! The next meeting will be in Spring 2018.

 

 

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