Students walking through a corridor, with other students sitting at tables.


Supporting systems to better serve youth

What We Work For

We help youth-serving systems and communities better support the needs and aspirations of young people, expand opportunities for them, and promote their well-being.

Adolescence is a formative developmental period for youth that has lasting impacts on their futures. All youth need a range of opportunities, relationships, and supports in order to be healthy, productive, and prepared for adulthood. Unfortunately, youth in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and who have experienced homelessness are often involved with systems that are ill-prepared to meet their developmental needs.

We work to ensure that public systems, communities, and families have the resources and knowledge they need to encourage youth’s well-being, belonging, and thriving and that our nation’s policy agenda works to facilitate youth success.

How We Do It

We collaborate with partner organizations and agencies who work closely with youth to increase the resources available to them and create supportive environments that can promote the well-being of all youth.

We work with system leaders, providers, youth, and community partners to change practices and policies that are harmful to youth. Our work celebrates and affirms young people and helps the systems with which they are involved to serve them in the most effective, strength-based, and meaningful ways possible.

Through policy and practice change, we work to ensure youth-serving systems and community partners have the resources to support and promote the well-being of youth while also empowering youth themselves to advocate for their own needs and for their communities.

We focus on improving youth-serving systems, policies, and practices—and empowering youth to advocate for their needs and community.

Through our work we are actively:

Changing the narrative about young people facing challenges to focus on the strengths and positive support they have as young and resilient people.

Improving public systems by working with partner organizations and agencies to define strategic directions, reform practices and programs, and build skilled staff and model programs that best meet the needs of young people and create supportive environments for all youth.

Working with community partners to provide training, resources, and assistance to people who work most closely with youth, including case workers, foster parents, youth workers, and probation and police officers.

Providing opportunities for youth to become leaders in their communities and within public systems to advocate for policies and programs that reflect what they need to succeed and change.

Influencing national and state-wide policies to reflect the latest research in adolescent development; combat disparities based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression; and focus attention on building the protective factors shown to mitigate risk and promote well-being.

Our work has resulted in the following improved outcomes for youth:

  • Decreased use of congregate care.
  • More appropriate placements.
  • Increased access to transition planning for older youth.
  • Improved health care.
  • Reduced rates of youth exiting care without a permanent placement.

In addition we have helped agencies:

  • Put into place a two-generation approach for working with expectant and parenting youth.
  • Increase their capacity to collect and use disaggregated data on race, ethnicity, and SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression).
  • Amend their policies and practices so that they reflect what the research says youth need to thrive and so that they encourage a focus on building protective and promotive factors rather than focusing primarily on reducing risks.
  • Train workers on youth development, trauma, and the protective and promotive factors associated with youth well-being.