Some states work through partners with direct access to youth and youth leadership structures to engage youth in MCH program planning. This can be especially helpful for reaching youth that may not be directly served by Title V/MCH programs and services. For example: state level youth action networks, youth serving professionals, and school based youth coalitions.
Gaum (Blockgrant Needs Assessment)
In the past (2005 Needs Assessment), Guam’s MCH program worked with multiple youth serving non-profit organizations to conducted focus groups of 10-12 individuals with middle and high school youth (13-19). The MCH program provided pizza, beverages and gift bags to youth for participation.
Maine (Blockgrant Needs Assessment)
Maine has worked closely with the Maine Youth Action Network to do focus groups with youth at their annual conference. The conference also used text polling to get feedback on adolescent health priorities.
Missouri (State Level Programming)
In 2013, the MO MCH Program and graduate student interns surveyed students and teachers at a statewide Family and Consumer Science Conference to find out what subjects they felt they needed more information on that could be included in a Title V/ MCH developed curriculum for family and consumer science and school health classes. Health relationships emerged as a priority topic students and teachers wanted more of and they were surveyed again in a subsequent year to break down specific aspects of healthy relationships. Learn more about the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
New Jersey (Community Level Youth Engagement)
The NJ Title V/MCH program collaborates with the New Jersey Health Initiatives Next Generation Leaders and the Lindsey Myer Teen Institute (youth leadership organizations) to align language and skill development with teens so they can look at their collective impact on adolescent development and community engagement related to health.
Oregon (State Level Programming & Community Level Youth Engagement)
The Oregon Health Authority developed and tested a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) curriculum as a strategy for authentically engage youth in the programs and policies that impact them, and provides the curriculum for free as a tool to support youth-adult partnerships and help youth-serving organizations integrate youth voice into their work. Learn more and download the curriculum. Oregon also taps into state and community partners to help recruit youth for focus groups and surveys, and to distribute online surveys to their youth, such as: School-Based Health Center Youth Advisory Councils; health education teachers throughout the state; Oregon Student Voice; and other youth serving organizations.
Wisconsin (State Level Programming)
The WI Title V/MCH program employs young people as staff through a fiscal arrangement with Wisconsin PATCH (Providers and Teens communicating for Health).
West Virginia (State Level Programming)
The West Virginia Adolescent Health Initiative engaged school-based youth coalitions to obtain statewide input from youth on program development.
What other organizations can you think of in your state and communities that have existing structures for engaging youth in positive ways? Are there organizations or agencies you already partner with that have youth councils or advisors? Are there organizations or initiatives that are reaching hard-to-reach youth? For example:
HOSA-Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of ACTE. HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. HOSA’s goal is to encourage all health science instructors and students to join and be actively involved in the HSE-HOSA Partnership. unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for secondary, postsecondary, adult, and collegiate students enrolled in health science education and biomedical science programs or have interests in pursuing careers in health professions. HOSA is uniquely positioned to expand the “pipeline” to recruit, attract, engage and retain qualified young people (of all ages) to help resolve the critical health care shortage facing this nation. Their extensive programs, local and state advisors and state chapters and conferences provide excellent opportunities for access to youth and young adults.
4-H is the largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S. with the skills to lead for a lifetime. Throughout the history of the organization, 4-H has engaged in research with youth to learn and understand how its programs help youth become responsible citizens leading healthy and productive lives and discovering critical science-focused innovations. For more than 10 years, 4 H has partnered with Tufts University to study the effectiveness of its youth development programs, and their Positive Youth Development longitudinal study that began in 2002 and was repeated annually for eight years, surveyed more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 42 U.S. states. With extensive experience in engaging youth and conducting research and evaluation to understand youth needs, 4-H is an excellent resource for youth focus group and surveying tools, and 4-H chapters nationwide provide an opportunity for connecting with youth (and young adult 4-H alumni).
Voices of Youth Count (Chapin Hall) is a national policy research initiative designed to link evidence and action by capturing the experiences of runaway, unaccompanied homeless and unstably housed youth, more clearly defining the size of the population and scope of the issue, and driving compelling knowledge into the hands of the broad national community dedicated to ending youth homelessness. Related resource: Youth Focus Group Facilitation Protocol (Runaway, Unaccompanied Homeless and Unstably Housed Youth)
Boys and Girls Clubs of America reach more than 4 million kids and teens are reached by local Boys and Girls Clubs. In addition to having direct access to youth in their clubs and programs, and expertise in youth focus groups and assessments, BGCA is building a rich repository of youth outcomes data for a sizeable number of Clubs that spans multiple years through their National Youth Outcomes Initiative, which builds the capability of Club organizations to collect and use data to gauge their beneficial effect on young people and demonstrate their impact to their stakeholders. Related resources: Conducting Focus Groups with Youth and Teens