The Y.O.U.T.H. (Youth Offering Unique Tangible Help) Training Project, is a dynamic multi-year collaboration between current and former foster youth, social work professionals, social work training academies, foundations and others committed to the empowerment and futures of California foster youth. The Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project is part of the Bay Area Academy (BAA), a social work training academy for the 12 Bay Area counties. However, the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project’s work is unique in that it extends beyond these counties to reach all of California, Hawaii and numerous other states. Practicing what we teach, the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project, staffed almost entirely by former foster youth, has empowered more than 70 youth to educate more than 6000 child welfare staff in California, Hawaii and beyond.
The Work We Do
The Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project is a youth development program, which works with current and former foster youth ages 16-24. We train youth in facilitation skills and curriculum development, preparing them to develop and deliver trainings to child welfare professionals and the greater community. These trainings focus on how to better serve the needs of Transition-Aged Youth (TAY) in foster care. The trainings employ a framework of Positive Youth Development (PYD), which supports youth to strengthen their skills, positive behaviors and beliefs, and focuses on emphasizing and developing those strengths. The trainings also take a Strengths-Based Approach to working with child welfare staff, acknowledging their strengths and positive contributions to the field. The ultimate goal of the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project is to improve child welfare practice by providing resources and feedback to individual workers and supervisors, while its partner organization, California Youth Connection (CYC), strives to create institutional changes in the child welfare system through policy and advocacy work.
Positive Youth Development
Beyond training child welfare staff, the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project enables the youth trainers to develop and implement leadership and facilitation skills in a unique way. Delivering a dynamic and complex training to a large group of professionals for an extended amount of time can be a difficult task. Our trainings require youth trainers to demonstrate and take on leadership roles, and practice group facilitation skills like engagement, informing, involving, and planning. The Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project also empowers youth trainers by giving them the opportunity to develop and create training curriculum. The process of creating youth-developed curriculum is a lengthy one. Professional curriculum developers say that to create 1 hour of polished curriculum takes 8 hours of work. This has been true in the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project’s experience. Developing curriculum for a day-long training takes approximately 5 weekends of work, with a team of 4-5 youth, staff, and subject matter experts as necessary.