In the next couple of minutes I will focus on anti-poverty programs that focus on the healthy development of youth living in high-poverty communities. This is the work that I have been engaged in as a practitioner and researcher.
In a nutshell, here is what I know about anti-poverty programs. First, reducing the effects of poverty is complicated as demonstrated in the Moving to Opportunity program, which was an experimental study which gave us some insights into how residential mobility influenced health and well-being. Second, the modest successes of anti-poverty programs do not come cheaply as evidenced by the Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.
The current generation of youth programs can provide modest positive impacts on academic achievement, academic attainment, and social behaviors, such as pregnancy, and most of the benefits of youth programs are concentrated in programs that are more resource-intensive (Beckett, 2008).
Midnight Basketball Unstructured settings that are unsupervised by authority figures (e.g., youth recreation centers designed as places for teens to hang out) Group programs at community and recreation centers that are restricted to deviant youth After-school programs that serve only or primarily high-risk youth Interventions that increase the cohesiveness of gangs
It makes intuitive sense that anti-povertyprograms should lead to improvements inindividual and family health, but do they?And if so, which anti-poverty programs havehelped, and how? Bob Atkins and Dan Hart Center for Children and Childhood Studies, Rutgers University-Camden
Overview• Anti-poverty: MTO and Harlem Children’s Zone• Anti-Poverty and Youth development programs• Youth development programs: what works, what doesn’t and why
Youth capable of achieving healthy andconstructive adulthoods – Physically healthy – Capable of work – Thoughtful and reflective – Caring and ethical – Civically engaged
The reality of youth development interventions(Beckett, 2008)• Modest impacts• Resource intensive
Thinking about what works?• Children’s Aid Society• Quantum Opportunities Program• CASASTART
The Childrens Aid Society Carrera AdolescentPregnancy Prevention Program OutcomesTeen intervention• Year-round after-school • reduced teen pregnancy program with a work-related and births among female intervention (Job Club); an academic component; participants after four comprehensive family life and years. sexuality education; arts • increased high school component; and sports. graduation and college• Also includes mental health enrollment (seven years care and medical care (Philliber et al., 2002). following start of the program and three years after the conclusion of the program).
Quantum Opportunities ProgramTeen Intervention Outcomes• Youth development • More likely to graduate program for economically from high school (than disadvantaged youth control)• Participants (Associates) • To be in post-secondary engage in 250 hours of school education, development, • Less likely to be high and community services school dropouts activities—year round• Also receive comprehensive case management
CASASTARTTeen intervention Outcomes• Serves high risk youth • As compared to controls, from severely participants less likely to disadvantaged have: neighborhoods – Used drugs• Substance abuse and – Distributed drugs delinquency prevention— – Committed violent crime serves young adolescents and families: case management, mentoring, instructional support
Besides work in multiple domains and promotion of well-being, what do these programs have in common?• Caring, youth-adult relationship that provides nurturance and creates opportunities• Year round (and long term) involvement, which requires engagement• Skill development• Structured curriculumRoth, J., Brooks-Gunn, J., Murray, L., & Foster, W. (1998). Promoting healthyadolescents: Synthesis of youth development program evaluations. Journal ofResearch on Adolescence, 8, 423-459.
Adults• 1-to-1 adult-adolescent relationship, or mentoring – compared to those without, adolescents with a mentor fare better in terms of • college attendance • mental health • problem behaviorRhodes, J. E., & DuBuois, D. L. (2006). Understanding and Facilitating the Youth Mentoring Movement. Social PolicyReport. Volume XX, Number III.
Adults• Key elements – warmth and connection • facilitated by shared interests • but not by racial/ethnic matching – modeling of behavior – attunement to youth’s desires and needs – regular contact; ideally not months, but years – sharing of • connections • knowledge • capitalRhodes, J. E., & DuBuois, D. L. (2006). Understanding and Facilitating the Youth Mentoring Movement. Social PolicyReport. Volume XX, Number III.
Engagement and Skill Development• Without engagement, there will be no involvement• Without involvement, there can be no skill development
Funding and careful evaluation important…butnot enough
21st Century Community Learning CentersAfter school program Outcomes• Elementary school • Increase in behavioral children problems during school• Varied by site (e.g., suspensions) “homegrown” (Homework • No improvement in assistance, free time, academic outcomes outdoor play).
Hypothesized problems with 21st CenturyCommunity Learning Centers• Toleration of behaviors during afterschool that were not tolerated in school• Unstructured curriculum• Other problems
What doesn’t work• Mentoring relationships less than 6 months long (may hurt participants)Rhodes, J. E., & DuBuois, D. L. (2006). Understanding and Facilitating the Youth Mentoring Movement. Social PolicyReport. Volume XX, Number III.
What doesn’t work • Aggregation of deviant peers (can increase delinquency and behavioral problems) – new skills – new audience – identityDodge, K. A., Dishion, T. J., & Lansford, J. E. (2006). Deviant peer influences inintervention and public policy for youth. Social Policy Report, XX #1.
Community Programming Aggregating Deviant Peers • Midnight basketball • Boot campsDodge, K. A., Dishion, T. J., & Lansford, J. E. (2006). Deviant peer influences inintervention and public policy for youth. Social Policy Report, XX #1.
Summary Problem-free is not fully prepared: we want youth to be healthy, reflective, work-ready, caring, citizens There are good, evidence-based models for achieving these goals—but they are resource intense and require fidelity. Good programs feature warm, enduring relationships with adults extended through time, skill development, opportunities to build prosocial competence.