Raising the Visibility: Advancing Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth
The Campaign for Youth applauds the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education for its leadership in bringing attention to the unique challenges facing youth and for its thoughtfulness in gathering input from a broad range of stakeholders to inform its work around disconnected youth through the Request for Information on Strategies for Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth.
Ensuring all young people have access to the tools and resources that will lead to full participation in our democracy is both a moral and economic issue. There are an estimated 6.7 million young people ages 16 to 24 that are unattached to school or work, of which 3.4 million are defined as being "chronic" having no attachment to school or the labor market since the age of 16. The taxpayer and social burden of a disconnected 16 year old young person over his or her lifetime is over $1,014,140 million.iThere is a clear need to examine the policy and practice strategies that need to be in place to ensure all young people are afforded opportunities for social and economic mobility - a strong secondary and post-secondary experience that leads to credentials and the ability to work and earn wages sufficient to support their families.
The Request for Information (RFI) requests information for a broad group of disadvantaged and disconnected young people ages 14 to 24, all of whom undoubtedly would benefit from improved strategic policy thinking that would influence better life outcomes for them. However, the focus of the Campaign for Youth's comments are intended to ensure that those young people that we believe are most vulnerable within this definition receive ample and increased attention to their needs - including those young people who have dropped out of high school; are within the age for compulsory school attendance but are over-age and under-credited; have been subject to the juvenile or adult justice system or ordered by a court to an alternative school; are homeless/runaway or under the care of the child welfare system; are low-income pregnant or parenting and are not attending any school. While the RFI addresses some of these populations of youth, we believe that a focus on the populations mentioned above would further improve outcomes for the most vulnerable youth.