Youth Development in the USA
Youth in the United States is a social demographic group aged 13-29.
Youth policy in the United States is governed by juvenile legislation, which defines the relationship between the state and young people aged 14-19. Further, the relationship is governed by federal law and statutes adopted by each state.
Since the laws in the states are passed independently and do not have to comply with the federal legislation of the country, there may be variations in the definition of “youth” (from 13 to 29 years old). Youth development programs like the YMCA in the United States typically focus on the 15-24 age cohort, but policymakers recognize that USAID youth programs should target the broader group of 10-29 years old, because the transition to adulthood is not an overnight process.
At the same time, while youth policy is built around youth development, it is necessary to recognize the importance of comprehensive measures to work with the 0-17 age cohort, which is defined as “children” by international standards and the Convention.
Each state such as NJ and itc counties adopts its own youth development program in accordance with applicable state law and prioritizes based on state policy, local needs, and funding opportunities.
Youth development strategies
Youth strategies in the United States are developed by states, political parties, public and government organizations, businesses, etc., reflecting the needs, rights and responsibilities of young people 20-25 years old. The strategies unite different components of public policy, they are targeted and can influence the activities of target groups of young people, in particular, they determine the age at which young people have the right to take part in “adult” life (work, voting, driver’s license, drinking alcohol, living independently etc.). These are independent, sometimes competing strategies and programs. They rarely take into account the relationship between youth life, state development and the country as a whole. Most of these strategies view young people as objects for protection or as subjects of problems to be solved.
Who is engaged in controlling youth development policy?
Youth policy in the United States is controlled by the Federal Department of Youth Policy and the United States Agency for International Development. Youth policy is also reflected in the programs of the Department of Defense of Extremism, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), USAID Education Policy, Usaid’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, IFAD Climate Change Strategy (2012- 2016), Children in Need, working on the government’s emergency response plan.
The departments of health and social protection are directly involved in youth programs and programs for the development of children and students; education; labor. They determine the directions of youth policy related to their activities, prepare annual reports on the state of youth in the context of their activities. The priority directions of the youth policy of the state and public structures of the USA are: the health of young people under the age of 18, the fight against drug addiction and child crime, the employment of children and youth.
The public administration system gives the states the freedom to choose to support any initiative and funding at the municipal level. Because each state has its own youth strategy that defines the type and direction of public and private organizations in that state, state programs are economic and socially responsive and promote youth development in line with the needs of the state.
The largest organizations that develop youth development programs are the federal youth development agencies Youth Initiative and the Youth Policy Institute, which assess the current situation of youth and the prospects for its development.
Youth development organizations in the United States can be profit or non-profit. They are not part of any government structure and independently determine the scope of their activities in the youth environment. Some of them were founded with the support of the state (for example, the National Committee for Youth and Childhood, the Youth Development Forum) and mainly perform analytical and research tasks.
Many youth organizations follow a certain ideology – scout organizations, political and religious movements. Many international youth organizations of humanitarian and religious orientation are based in the United States, whose activities are aimed at interacting with youth organizations of other countries.
More and more states and local communities in the United States are recognizing the need for coordinated approaches to supporting youth development. The National Governors Association and the National League of Cities have made significant efforts to inform and support their members in youth policy. Organizations such as the Finance Project and the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research have developed fundraising methodologies and programs aimed at helping states and municipalities find the necessary funds and other options to provide additional education for children and youth.
Large private corporations also act as founders or sponsors of youth organizations whose activities are aimed at the education and cultural development of youth. In many cases, youth organizations raise funds to carry out joint programs or finance their activities.
Investing in youth programs can reduce the risks of demographic and social threats, including poor nutrition for children and adolescents, high youth unemployment, high school dropouts, early (teenage) pregnancy, and HIV infection. In the United States, 45% of those infected with HIV are young people aged 15-24. The rate of those who abuse tobacco and alcohol is growing among young people.
In recent years, the total amount of funding for youth organizations in the United States from public and private sources has been $ 1.1-1.2 billion, which is not much for a country like the United States. Today, the activities of youth organizations can be assessed as quite effective, but, undoubtedly, an increase in investment in youth programs would have an even greater effect.