We asked AMCHP members: How is your Title V/MCH department incorporating youth development into its work?
By Laurel A Cima Coates, MPA
Chief, Prevention, Policy and Program Standards Branch, Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Division, California Department of Public Health
The California Department of Public Health Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division (CDPH/MCAH) received an Office of Adolescent Health, Pregnancy Assistance Fund award to implement an evidence-informed, standardized case management program that operationalizes a positive youth development resiliency framework and integrates life planning. The intervention, Adolescent Family Life Program Positive Youth Development (AFLP PYD), provides a strengths-based approach to support expectant and parenting youth and their families and works to establish a seamless network of accessible services, resources, and supports.
To operationalize positive youth development within the AFLP PYD case management program, MCAH has linked a research-based resiliency framework from the Bonnie Benard book, Resiliency: What We Have Learned directly with the case manager-youth interaction and developed standardized tools to support implementation. In this framework, there are three important environmental processes called protective factors that buffer risk and foster resilience: 1) forming caring relationships; 2) maintaining high expectations; and 3) providing opportunities for participation and contribution. Using positive youth development principles, case managers model protective factors and work with youth to complete a series of standardized activities that help build resilience strengths: problem solving skills, sense of purpose, autonomy and social competence. Initially, youth and their case manager work on My Life and Me activities, which helps youth identify and build their strengths, relationships, dreams and values. The case managers also utilize the My Life Plan, an interactive, youth-centered, strengths-based life planning tool, which AFLP youth complete with the support and guidance of their case managers. It is designed to help youth create personal goals based on their own values and resources to improve their health and well-being and that of their child/children. Throughout the intervention, case managers use motivational techniques to support youth in life planning, handling difficult situations and in goal setting and decision making around program priorities of family planning, education and work, access to health care and healthy relationships.
PYD at CDPHE: Changing the Way We Do Business
By Audra Bishop, MA, CACIII
Youth and Young Adult Unit Supervisor, Children, Youth and Families Branch, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
The journey of integrating PYD is an evolving one. Here at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, we have had a few enthusiastic and persistent champions who have, through the support of research and relationships, challenged and changed the way many of us within the department do our work and the opportunities we now have available for integrating PYD into business at the state level.
As an evidence-based public health strategy, PYD includes engaging youth in authentic partnerships. Our Youth and Young Adult Unit is now in its second year of implementing its recently developed Youth Advisor model. This model was created to help institutionalize the engagement of young people within the department, in order to enhance the programs, practices and policies that impact youth health and well-being.
Authentic youth engagement has not been foreign to the department, which has funded a statewide youth advisory council for the last 14 years, but to actually hire young people as state employees came with a new set of obstacles and opportunities. Hiring youth entailed a significant paradigm shift in how we market to, engage, interview, orient and supervise. It meant helping other adult staff, including those in the state Department of Personnel Administration and the department human resources, that hiring youth was not only valuable to the young people themselves, but it was equally, if not more, valuable for the department work. These youth were not "just" interns who were there to learn from us, but rather "experts" in youth culture and therefore needed to be compensated as such. To prepare both youth and adults for this new way of doing business, guidance was provided to the department through documents, face to face trainings and creative tools for introducing the advisors and highlighting their work. Our unit is currently working on finalizing a Youth Advisor Model Evaluation Report, along with guidance on how to replicate the model within other agencies. In addition, we are in the planning phase with other state and community organizations currently committed to hiring their own youth advisors, about how we can align and integrate the roles and responsibilities of the youth advisors, as to promote cross-agency work and collaboration. Working alongside and supervising youth advisors has brought about innovation, challenging conversations and been a highlight of our unit work over the last few years.