Academic Literature

Integrating Positive Youth Development and Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Approaches Across the Child Welfare and Justice Systems

2022

Integrating Positive Youth Development and Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Approaches Across the Child Welfare and Justice Systems

6 months ago 6 months ago Published by

Over the past 30 years, a growing body of research has indicated that Positive Youth Development (PYD) approaches can improve mental and physical health, education, and employment outcomes for young people. PYD approaches focus on young people’s assets and build on protective factors such as family and social supports to enhance positive, age-appropriate development. Despite the promise of PYD approaches, child welfare and justice systems have struggled to adapt them in a way that systematically focuses on protective factors; leverages youth, family, and community strengths across multiple domains; and coordinates with other systems in which youth are involved (i.e., education or employment training).

In this working paper, we explore why these systems need a new emphasis on PYD approaches that incorporate racial equity and inclusion, why it is important to focus on young adults specifically, and why the child welfare and justice systems are particularly important sectors in which to provide positive, developmentally appropriate supports. This paper also introduces “STRENGTH”, a conceptual model structured around eight principles drawn from PYD frameworks that can be used by programs and communities to guide and collaborate in supporting adolescents and young adults in both child welfare and justice systems. The word “STRENGTH,” as the representation of these principles, should remind program administrators, staff, and others working with young adults of both the need to build strengths and of the inherent strengths that young adults bring to their situations. A strengths-based approach that centers these positive characteristics, rather than a young adult’s deficits, underlies all eight principles. Further, these principles give public systems a roadmap to reevaluate how they approach youth and families in a way that invokes PYD principles, is explicitly focused on equity and inclusion, and is centered on communities and families.

The working paper concludes with a discussion of the next phase of our work—a toolkit intended to provide concrete supports to programs and systems that are adding or building on PYD approaches for young adults.

Lantos, H., Allen, T., Abdi, F. M., Franco, F., Anderson Moore, K., Snell, J., Bruce, B.-A., Redd, Z., Robuck, R., & Miller, J. (2022). Integrating Positive Youth Development and Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Approaches Across the Child Welfare and Justice Systems. ChildTrends. https://www.childtrends.org/publications/integrating-positive-youth-development-and-racial-equity-inclusion-and-belonging-approaches-across-the-child-welfare-and-justice-systems

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