With the political season in full swing already, it is clear that people are seeking reform. No other explanation can be given when you consider the popularity of Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
This political environment is a golden ticket for those of us in Youth Intervention. With a growing political movement clamoring for radical reform, now is the time to begin educating the community about the value of Youth Intervention and how it improves lives and strengthens communities.
There are many people who do not understand Youth Intervention or the value it provides. In many ways, it is our fault. Youth Intervention workers have just not been good at speaking up about what we do. If we are to be honest with ourselves, by not standing up for young people and being an advocate for Youth Intervention we have contributed to our community problems.
There is a growing number of young people not getting the services they need; the end result being that they often become lifelong consumers of our public services. Research and our own experiences show that many of these young people would be productive and happy adults if given the proper support. If we want better outcomes then clearly we need big changes.
When the field of Youth Intervention fails to demand change, the status quo impacts:
- Families: There is a common belief that it’s “all the family’s fault” for kids that have risk factors in their lives. There is no doubt that some families could be better care providers, but anyone in Youth Intervention knows it’s not that simple. We help families be more nurturing and healthier when we provide additional support alongside them.
- Communities: When families and their kids are struggling there is a ripple effect within the entire community. School districts are asked to provide even more support to them beyond classroom related academic learning. Public safety is jeopardized. The quality of the future workforce is diminished. The end result is more taxpayer money is needed without any significant benefits. It drags down economic growth.
- Our Elected Officials: They look to the community for guidance. By not educating our elected officials and demanding reform, they simply continue funding the status quo. It is the easiest option for them, but it perpetuates the problem.
As we have seen time and time again, social unrest is often the result when “the system” fails groups of people. This is very true of young people today in America and across the globe.
It is imperative that professionals in the field of Youth Intervention start taking action now to bring about reform
If you don’t know where to start, then now is the time to get some training. YIPA offer trainings on advocacy that are FREE to anyone who is ready to make a difference. At the end of the trainings, you will be provided some simple, quick and easy action steps that you can immediately take in your own community or state.
Each of us in the field of Youth Intervention needs to drive reform. We need to be in the driver’s seat with the foot on the gas. And in today’s environment with its overwhelming desire for new ways of doing things, is our time to go full throttle…floor it!
Paul Meunier is the Executive Director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA).
YIPA provides relentless advocacy in Minnesota and exceptional online training for youth-serving organizations and youth workers everywhere. Join us!