Young People Influence Decisions About FYSB Programming

Teens meeting with an adult.When it comes to planning programs for young people, experts agree that youth should sit at the table.

For that reason, the Family and Youth Services Bureau makes sure that teens and young adults served by its Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs have opportunities to influence decision making at FYSB, in their programs and in their communities.

Two former runaway or homeless youth sit on the advisory board of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Centers, which are funded by FYSB to support its grantees. Youth also participate in the National Runaway and Homeless Youth FYSB Grantee Conference as emcees, speakers and workshop co-facilitators.

At the 2011 conference, youth participants spoke privately with FYSB and Administration on Children, Youth and Families officials to discuss how policies affect them and to offer their ideas on improving those policies.

During FYSB’s annual grant reviews, young adults are involved in reviewing grant applications based on the criteria published by FYSB in its funding opportunity announcements. The young people’s critical review and comments are invaluable to FYSB in the award process.

Youth also are playing an important role in FYSB’s strategy to communicate a new outcomes initiative to its grantees. Youth speak at conferences and in videos taped for the Administration for Children and Families website about their definitions of the four broad outcomes: safety, self-sufficiency, well-being and permanent connections.

Enabling youth to give back to their communities helps them to become self-sufficient and feel connected. So FYSB tracks the percentage of Transitional Living Program youth engaged in community service and service learning activities. In FY 2010, 37 percent of youth were engaged in community service and service learning. The percentage has reached as high as 42 percent, in FY 2008.

FYSB also engages youth through its Support Systems for Rural Homeless Youth demonstration project, which is in place in six states. The state and local collaborations help young people in rural areas, including Tribal lands, who are approaching young adulthood and independence but have few or no connections to a supportive family or community resources. Each project has emphasized youth participation and leadership development in the planning and implementation of project strategies and activities.