SUCCESSFUL FAMILY AND YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: BEST PRACTICES AND REAL-WORLD EXAMPLES FROM THE FIELD
In our mental health and youth violence prevention work, there are partners we routinely engage during program development: mental health practitioners, school administrators, community leaders, and community members. It is crucial that we engage students and their families (including families of young children) as key partners because often these community members are the people our programs aim to serve. Engaging families and youth early in program planning gives us an opportunity to incorporate their perspectives. Additionally, their valuable insights help us make key decisions during the planning and implementation phases of programs to ensure we are addressing their needs.
While the processes of engaging youth versus engaging families have different best practices, they share common values. For example, they both incorporate the value of “nothing about us, without us”—that is, any decisions about serving families or youth should be made with the full participation of youth and families. Both approaches also focus on mutual respect among families, youth, and adults, as well as cultural and linguistic competency, recognizing that a community’s culture impacts the lives of its members.
In addition to addressing these shared values, we consider incorporating the following best practices into our program development work. Doing so creates programs that are accessible and beneficial to families and children and, ultimately, have a significant impact on our communities. Learn more.