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Youth Engagement

Positive Youth Development (PYD)

Why is Positive Youth Development important?

All young people need supports and opportunities to make a successful transition to adulthood. The focus of the positive youth development approach is to help youth acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become healthy and productive adults. PYD builds on young people’s strengths and recognizes their unique contributions.

How do we prepare for Positive Youth Development?

Implementing the PYD approach requires preparation of the organization, adults, and youth. Policy and practice must be reviewed to ensure that they support the PYD philosophy. If they contain barriers, they need to be revised. Adults must examine their views of young people and work to see them as “resources” rather than “problems to be fixed.” Training, such as NRCYD’s Youth Development: The Vital Link, can assist in this process. Young people also need preparation to be able to fully participate in the opportunities provided to them.

What are some challenges to implementing a PYD approach?

Implementation of the Positive Youth Development approach can be challenging for several reasons:

  • Organizational and cultural resistance to empowering young people
  • Many adults have difficulty stepping back and letting youth lead
  • Young people may have doubts that they are really being listened to or that their input can impact the system
  • Logistical issues – time, compensation, transportation, and scheduling – often do not support youth involvement

What resources are available?

2008 Positive Youth Development Toolkit (pdf) -  Practical strategies and tools for collaborating with youth using the Positive Youth Development approach.

Destination Future 2008 Report (pdf) - Highlights the issues and recommendations presented at the 2008 Destination Future Youth Leadership Conference hosted by The University of Oklahoma, OUTREACH, National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development.

Partnering With Youth: Involving Youth in Child Welfare Training and Curriculum Development (pdf) - Resource for agencies interested in involving youth in the development of child welfare curriculum and staff development projects.

A Native Pathway to Adulthood
A competency-based curriculum designed to enhance the skills of tribal and state workers in facilitating the transition of older Native American youth from out-of-home care to adulthood.

Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project - An entirely youth developed and delivered curriculum that provides child welfare staff with the instruction and tools needed to assist older youth in making a successful transition to independence and achieving self-sufficiency.