The Recommendations

Strategies

STRATEGY 1: ESTABLISH A STRONG FOUNDATION

Know the landscape, who is involved, what they are doing,
and ensure all voices are heard

Increase the meaningful engagement between leaders of youth-serving organizations, young people and parents themselves.

PROPOSED ACTION STEPS

  • Integrate youth and family voice across the city’s existing committees and taskforces that benefit children and youth. Welcome participants in the governance and decision-making for these initiatives and ensure that those who are affected by programming and policies have legitimate voices and choices.
  • Support citywide efforts to engage youth and parents in a structured, continuous and authentic way. For example, the New Orleans City Health Department is exploring ways to engage youth in a leadership program that would allow them to identify, develop and advocate for policies that directly affect them.
  • Mobilize resources, both technical assistance and financial, to be used by organizations or coalitions seeking to authentically engage with youth and community members. For example, make funding available to offset barriers like renting space in locations convenient to working parents, provide childcare, or offer transportation to participants. Also, ensure organizations have the training and support they need to engage children, youth and parents authentically and effectively.
  • Increase participation of groups, such as faith-based organizations, people of color, and parents and children, that YouthShift research suggests are under-represented in decision-making bodies for children and youth. These groups directly experience many of the challenges our children and youth face. They are important contributors to our neighborhoods and communities and their perspectives are essential to our success.
  • Ensure that communications about programming are accessible and culturally competent.

 

Increase what we know about the well-being of children and youth in our community and what efforts there are to address priorities outlined above. Disseminate this information to the general public.

PROPOSED ACTION STEPS

  • Support The Data Center’s annual Youth Index as well as other efforts to routinely collect and report on data that tracks outcomes for New Orleans youth. Use these reports as an indicator of how effectively YouthShift is contributing to improved outcomes for our young people.
  • Using existing community resource guides, create a centralized and routinely updated information clearinghouse that houses information about youth-serving programs that includes types of services, target population(s), age groups served, geographic locations, program cost, referral/enrollment information and other information that young people, their families, and youth workers deem necessary. Create a platform that can be accessed by multiple audiences, sorted or browsed by topic, priority area, etc., and accessed via the Internet or mobile device.

STRATEGY 2: PROVIDE IMPROVED STRUCTURE

Ensure programs for children and youth are of highest quality

Improve the quality of programs that serve children and youth in New Orleans by reinforcing the continued efforts of the K-12 school system, youth development programs and early childhood sectors to define, measure and support quality improvement on an ongoing basis.

PROPOSED ACTION STEPS

  • Develop a culture of continuous quality improvement among children and youth serving organizations, informed by youth and parent feedback, through incentivized, non-punitive funding opportunities that reach a diversity of youth-serving programs.
  • Increase the number of organizations participating in the New Orleans Youth Program Quality Initiative (NOLA-YPQI), a research-based quality improvement project for youth development programs currently being piloted by 15 organizations with financial assistance from Baptist Community Ministries.
  • Support the efforts of the New Orleans Early Education Network (NOEEN) to provide the professional development, technical assistance and peer support opportunities needed to increase the number of high-quality early childhood programs in the city.
  • Leverage existing workgroups like the NOLA-YPQI Working Group and Opportunity Youth Data Sharing Council to engage youth-serving organizations, youth and parents in understanding, defining and using citywide program quality indicators for New Orleans programs.
  • Create a professional development system for youth workers that augments staff skills and knowledge and builds capacity to meet program quality improvement goals.  Collect, centralize and disseminate information on available opportunities and supports for program quality improvement.

STRATEGY 3: MAINTAIN STRONG SUPPORTS

Build the capacity, funding and policy supports to successfully and sustainably support all children and youth

Develop youth-centered public policies and strategies to ensure that young people come first in New Orleans.

PROPOSED ACTION STEPS

  • Identify an existing collaboration or organization that can lead efforts to map existing public policy initiatives and priorities and share findings so like-minded programs or initiatives can align for greater impact.
  • Develop a campaign to nurture champions for New Orleans youth among local, state and federal government representatives and other influential leaders. Provide them with the necessary information to help inform and prioritize efforts for better outcomes for all New Orleans children.
  • Routinely identify funding and policy barriers for young people and centralize information. For example, publications like the Public Funding for Out-of-School Time in New Orleans can be routinely updated and serve as a starting place for developing effective, collaborative policy campaigns.
  • Assess the feasibility of a tax levy or millage to support high-quality, high-impact youth-focused programs in Orleans Parish based on best practices in peer cities.

Identify and support an organization (or multiple organizations) to provide staffing, technical assistance, resources and expertise to help support organizations seeking to execute these goals. 

PROPOSED ACTION STEPS

  • Identify national best practice examples of intermediary organizations that manage the functions needed to support the implementation of YouthShift’s recommendations, including:
    • Providing technical assistance and training for youth and child workers and program staff to improve program quality on research-based domains like:
      • Providing a Safe environment
      • Providing a Supportive environment
      • Quality Interaction
      • Quality Engagement
      • Including Youth-Centered Policies and Practices
      • Holding High Expectations for Youth and Staff
      • Ensuring Access for families
    • Regularly collecting and disseminating data on children and youth
    • Convening and ensuring the coordination of collaboratives and organizations focused on improving youth outcomes and public policy
    • Developing and implementing communication strategies to ensure that youth-serving organizations are aware of opportunities for alignment and coordination, including a biannual update on program activities and resource guides
    • Mobilizing resources for organizations that work with and on behalf of youth. Pass through resources to partnering organizations and/or act as fiscal agent when necessary.
  • Seek and vet commitments from a local organization(s) that can provide excellence in the six backbone functions critical to YouthShift’s Collective Impact success: Guiding Vision and Strategy, Supporting Aligned Activities, Establishing Shared Measurement Practices, Building Public Will, Advancing Policy, and Mobilizing Funding for all children and youth-serving organizations and agencies.