Shining a Spotlight on Systems-Involved Youth

Jenna Tomasello is a Policy Associate at AYPF

AYPF has long called attention to the needs of traditionally underserved youth and the importance of providing equitable access to education and workforce opportunities in order for all youth to succeed in school, career, civic life, and to enjoy an overall full and productive life. AYPF has spent a lot of time recently thinking about the unique needs of systems-involved youth, specifically, how best to support these youth in secondary education, postsecondary education, and work. AYPF uses the term ‘systems-involved youth’ to describe youth involved in the juvenile justice system, child welfare system, or both systems (i.e., crossover youth), with specific emphasis on youth who are incarcerated, in foster care, or youth exiting or having exited these systems. Check out AYPF’s recent events and products focused on systems-involved youth:


Capitol Hill Forum

Moderator Leticia Peguero, Executive Director, Andrus Family Fund poses a question to Youth Leader Jefferson Alvarez of UTEC.

On Monday, September 25, 2017, AYPF held a Capitol Hill forum entitled Advancing Pathways to Education and Workforce Opportunities for Systems-Involved Youth. This forum explored critical elements at the intersection of policy and practice for supporting systems-involved youth on a pathway to long-term success. Featuring youth and program leaders from UTEC, Exalt Youth, First Place for Youth, Aspen Institute for Community Solutions, and Andrus Family Fund, panelists discussed the importance of leveraging authentic youth voice and advocacy, providing youth with a diversity of supports and services, collecting and using data effectively, and aligning youth-serving systems and policies to advance pathways to education and the workforce for young people involved in the juvenile justice system and/or youth in foster care.

Picture 1 – from left to right: Gisele Castro, Executive Director, Exalt Youth; Sam Cobbs, Chief Executive Officer, First Place for Youth; and Monique Miles, Director, Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund; Deputy Director, Aspen Institute for Community Solutions; Picture 2 – from left to right: Jefferson Alvarez, UTEC Youth Leader and Gregg Croteau, Executive Director, UTEC

Click to access the forum resource page where all event materials including an agenda, handouts, and bios of all speakers can be found.


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Lessons Learned Brief

In this new brief, Supporting Pathways to Long-Term Success for Systems-Involved Youth: Lessons Learned, AYPF discusses lessons learned from our last two years of work focused specifically on systems-involved youth. Following a discussion about the education and workforce barriers these youth face, their outcomes, and the policies that affect them, this brief is organized into three key lessons that AYPF has identified as critical for promoting pathways to postsecondary education, training, and careers for youth involved in the juvenile justice system and/or youth in foster care:

1) Leveraging authentic youth voice;
2) Providing youth with a diversity of comprehensive supports and transitional services; and
3) Strategically aligning youth-serving systems and policies.

Read the brief here.

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Policy Fact Sheet 

This new fact sheet, Education and Workforce Related Policies Affecting Systems-Involved Youth, was created to inform researchers, policymakers, and practitioners of the federal legislation that governs systems-involved youth, as well as to highlight grant opportunities. This resource includes legislation and grants specifically focused on supporting secondary, postsecondary, and workforce success among youth involved in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare system.

Read the fact sheet here. 



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Microsite and Resource Hub

AYPF’s microsite, Understanding Foster, Juvenile Justice, and Crossover Youth, which draws upon national, state, and local research and data, provides snapshots of education and workforce outcomes of systems-involved youth and explores the challenges they face. This resource can be found on AYPF’s Foster, Juvenile Justice, and Crossover Youth resource page which acts as a hub for both AYPF and partner organization resources related to youth involved in the juvenile justice system and/or youth in foster care.

Click to access the microsite and resource hub. 


Blog Posts

Finally, in case you missed it, check out a few of AYPF’s recent blog posts focused on systems involved youth:



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.