Vulnerable Youth: Federal Mentoring Programs and Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara. February 23, 2018
Youth mentoring refers to a relationship between youth—particularly those most at risk of experiencing negative outcomes in adolescence and adulthood—and the adults who support and guide them. The origin of the modern youth mentoring concept is credited to the efforts of charity groups that formed during the Progressive era of the early 1900s to provide practical assistance to poor and juvenile justice-involved youth, including help with finding employment.
Approximately 4.5 million youth today are involved in formal mentoring relationships through organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America. Contemporary mentoring programs seek to improve outcomes and reduce risks among vulnerable youth by providing positive role models who regularly meet with the youth in community or school settings. Some programs have broad youth development goals, while others focus more narrowly on a particular outcome. Evaluations of the BBBS program and studies of other mentoring programs demonstrate an association between mentoring and some positive outcomes, but the impact of mentoring and the ability for mentored youth to sustain gains over time are less certain.
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Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara. November 8, 2016
While most young people have access to emotional and financial support systems throughout their early adult years, older youth in foster care and those who are emancipated from care often face obstacles to developing independent living skills and building supports that ease the transition to adulthood. Older foster youth who return to their parents or guardians may continue to experience poor family dynamics or lack supports, and studies have shown that recently emancipated foster youth fare poorly relative to their counterparts in the general population on several outcome measures.
The federal government recognizes that older youth in foster care and those aging out are vulnerable to negative outcomes and may ultimately return to the care of the state as adults, either through the public welfare, criminal justice, or other systems. Under the federal foster care program, states may seek reimbursement for youth to remain in care up to the age of 21. In addition, the federal foster care program has certain protections for older youth. For example, states must annually obtain the credit report of each child in care who is age 14 and older. States must also assist youth with developing what is known as a transition plan. The law requires that a youth’s caseworker, and as appropriate, other representative(s) of the youth, assist and support him or her in developing the plan. The plan is to be directed by the youth, and is to include specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors, workforce supports, and employment services. Other protections require states to ensure that youth age 14 and older are consulted about the development and revisions to their case plan and permanency plan, and that the case plan includes a document listing certain rights for these youth.
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Reforming the U.S. Youth Minimum Wage. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Preston Cooper. August 9, 2016.
According to the author, unemployment among U.S. teenagers now stands at 16 percent. Raising the minimum wage, as many are advocating, will only make the situation worse. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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How States Are Expanding Apprenticeship. Center for American Progress. Angela Hanks and Ethan Gurwitz. February 9, 2016.
As postsecondary education or training has become more essential for economic success, policymakers have begun to give apprenticeship a closer look. At the federal level, President Barack Obama has dedicated $175 million to an American Apprenticeship grant initiative that will help 46 public-private partnerships create more opportunities for workers and employers to participate in apprenticeship. Congress recently dedicated new funding to grow apprenticeships as well. Importantly, this new federal action follows leadership by states to spur innovation in apprenticeship and revitalize this effective, but underused worker training strategy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Disconnected Youth: A Look at 16 to 24 Year Olds Who Are Not Working or In School. Congressiona Research Service, Library of Congress. Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara. October 1, 2015.
In recent years, policymakers and youth advocates have focused greater attention on young people who are neither working nor in school. Generally characterized as “disconnected,” these youth may also lack strong social networks that provide assistance in the form of employment connections and other supports such as housing and financial assistance. Without attachment to work or school, disconnected youth may be vulnerable to experiencing negative outcomes as they transition to adulthood. The purpose of the report is to provide context for Congress about the characteristics of disconnected youth, and the circumstances in which they live. These data may be useful as Congress considers policies to retain students in high school and to provide opportunities for youth to obtain job training and employment.
[PDF format, 41 pages, 1.21 MB].
Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Pew Research Center. Amanda Lenhart. April 9, 2015.
24% of teens go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones. Aided by the convenience and constant access provided by mobile devices, especially smartphones, 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly,” according to the study. More than half (56%) of teens — ages 13 to 17 — go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Just 6% of teens report going online weekly, and 2% go online less often. Much of this frenzy of access is facilitated by mobile devices. Nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30% have a basic phone, while just 12% of teens 13 to 17 say they have no cell phone of any type. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 48 pages, 886.83 KB].
Alienated Muslim Youth Seek Purpose, Thrills in Joining Jihad. YaleGlobal. Joji Sakurai. Februar 19, 2015.
Adolescents grapple to find an identity during a stage of human development described by psychologist Erik Erikson. Those who don’t succeed in feeling good about their role in society blame others and may hold a grudge against their community. They also make ideal targets for recruiters of criminal and extremist groups. “Religious fervor rarely has much to do with what draws people to join such groups,” writes Sakurai. “Deep down, it’s about purpose. Belonging. Excitement. A sense of identity. Order amid disorder. A focus for pent-up rage.” Recruiters offer an easy solution to life’s problems, with rewards and power, money and cars, or life after death. Too many marginalized youth lack the social or critical thinking skills to analyze the message, ponder the consequences and walk away – and instead, embrace a last-ditch effort to escape a futile, boring life. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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