Here are some of the concepts that inform our work and make the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project a model program for positive youth development.
We embed the principals of Positive Youth Development in every ounce of our work. Transition-age youth are not only talented and capable, but are also experts in the systems of care from which they are emerging. With opportunities and supportive adult involvement and encouragement, youth can emerge as responsible, connected, and contributing adults.
We focus on strengths. While strengths can be foiled by trauma, everyone possesses both realized and unrealized capabilities—just waiting to be mobilized. Whether we are working with youth, trainees, clients, or collaborators, we use a strengths-based approach.
We value self-care. We are committed to the well-being of staff, youth trainers, and trainees. We encourage and model self-care for our youth trainers, and we offer real time support so youth can reflect deeply on their experiences in the child welfare system, and develop and deliver professional quality training to child welfare professionals.
We practice Big Love. Many transition-age foster youth come to YTP with a history of multiple placements and traumas. By practicing compassion and respect, holding high expectations—and yes, communicating love—we build trust, confidence, and community. We borrowed the concept of Big Love from Ellen Lerner, a friend of the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project, who wrote a children’s book by the same name (Lerner, 2007).
We are fiercely committed to evaluation and regularly submit our programs to independent review so that we can bring you new insights and directions in working well with transition-age youth.
See our Organizational Impact evaluation, which looked at the cumulative impact of our programming, including benefits to organizational partners.
You might also be interested in our Wellness Retreat evaluation, which looked at the value and impact of supporting wellness among YTP’s youth trainers—with the goal of modeling how other organizations could help replenish youth wellness.