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SubjectsHealth and Human Services › Youth and Youth-at-Risk Programs
Updated 02/2012

Youth and Youth-At-Risk Programs



This page focuses on programs for youth. It includes programs that target at-risk youth and those that accommodate the needs of youth to prevent them from becoming at-risk. Links are included to local advisory boards and commissions that receive input from youth on local government policies and programs. In addition to the related MRSC pages provided in the contents list above, there are several Healthy Community pages that address tobacco use, obesity, nutrition and food security, and activity programs for healthy people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adolescent Health page lists adolescent health and risk behaviors. It notes that government agencies, community organizations, schools, and other community members must work together in a comprehensive approach to have the most positive impact on adolescent health. Providing safe and nurturing environments for our nation's youth can help ensure that adolescents will be healthy and productive members of society.

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP)1 notes in the introduction to their Prevent Youth Violence page, that youth violence and crime affect a community's economic health, as well as individuals' physical and mental health and well-being. Each neighborhood and community has unique experiences with violence and different resources available to them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing youth violence. However, communities can help reduce youth violence by developing a city-wide strategy that combines prevention, intervention, treatment, and re-entry strategies.

There appears to be no general definition of youth at risk, though there is a definition for at-risk youth in RCW 13.32A.030, as it relates to juvenile courts and juvenile offenders. A report done for the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families on resources for serving at-risk youth, uses the term at-risk youth to refer to young people for whom the probability of successfully transitioning to adulthood and achieving economic self-sufficiency is low2.

The Problem of At-Risk Youth

The listed citations relate to the problem of at-risk youth, its societal implications, and a discussion of prevention measures.

Programs that Focus on Youth

Community Programs

  • Bainbridge Island Community Connections - See youth related resources - Partnership of City of Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Island School District, Islandwood, and Bainbridge Metro Parks and Recreation District
  • Boys and Girls Club of Benton and Franklin County - Facilities include a teen center directly targeting youth grades 6 and up; the Columbia Center Rotary Branch Music & Arts Center; the Brighter Horizons program provides infant and toddler care to the children of students at New Horizons School; Club Discovery serves preschoolers and kindergarteners; and it operates licensed childcare at several elementary schools
  • Kent Youth and Family Services - Provides professional counseling, education and support services to children, youth and their families in our community, developing innovative programs that meet the evolving challenges of our diverse community in culturally sensitive ways
  • The Service Board - The Service Board provides Seattle area high school-age youth with life-changing experiences that build self-knowledge, skills, courage, and determination.
  • Youth in Focus - An afterschool program that uses intensive photography training as a tool to help disadvantaged teens develop personal voice, positive identity, social skills and artistic Puget Sound Business Journal Friday, May 16, 2003 - Groups Aim to Keep At-Risk Kids Off the Street

Local Government Programs

  • Bellevue Youth Link - Youth leadership program sponsored by the City of Bellevue, Parks & Community Services Department, and Bellevue Public Schools
  • Clark County
    • Youth House - A youth empowerment center developed by the Clark County Department of Community Services. The foundation of the Youth House is built on the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets developed by the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    • Youth Program - Addresses the needs of youth and their families throughout Clark County. The focus of our work is youth-driven and designed to promote the health of youth by building on their strengths
  • Kirkland Parks and Community Services Youth Services - Mission is to build a community in which families, neighbors, schools, and organizations all work together to enable young people to become competent, contributing, and responsible members of the community with a feeling of hope for the future
  • Mercer Island
    • Communities that Care Project - A program that follows the Drug Free Communities (DFC) model
    • Youth and Family Services - Services include individual and family counseling; senior adult outreach; elementary, middle school and high school counseling; alcohol and drug prevention and intervention services for youth; juvenile court diversion services; family assistance and support; employment services; volunteering and leadership development; and advocacy and community planning. MIYFS also contracts with area service providers to deliver specialized sexual assault, domestic violence and legal resource services

Law and Justice Programs

Programs Operated through Park and Recreation Departments

  • Bainbridge Metro Parks Teen Center Program - Provides recreation center ammenities, teen activities, concerts, youth service projects
  • Longview Recreation Teen Activities
  • Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Teen Programs - Program serves teens in grades 7-12 within the Edmonds School District. Programs include special events, teen nights, summer camp, day trips, afterschool programs and volunteering
  • Metro Parks Tacoma SPARX - A youth development program in all nine of Tacoma's middle schools as well at the Lincoln Center at Lincoln HS. It is coordinated by Metro Parks with funding support from the City of Tacoma and facility support from Tacoma Public Schools
  • Seattle Parks & Recreation Teen Programs - Mission is to improve and enhance the self-esteem, opportunities, knowledge, cultural awareness and well being among Seattle teens.
  • Redmond Parks and Recreation Teens - Old Fire House Teen Center
  • Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Programs for Teens

Transportation Programs

  • Clallam Transit Summer Youth Pass - Provided All youth, ages 6 through 19,sunner travel throughout the county on regular fixed-route
  • King County News Release August 31, 2011, Youth in Crisis Can Seek Out a King County Metro Bus for Help,
  • Olympia Intercity Transit Youth Programs - Smart Moves program provide educational opportunities, encouragement campaigns, and programs in schools to increase biking, walking, and bus riding The youth education program, promotes environmental stewardship relating to transportation.
  • Snohomish Community Transit - Service to Skate Parks - Encourages youth to take a bus to skate parks in the county

Youth Advisory Boards and Commissions

  • Asotin County Youth Commission - Sponsored by Asotin County Commissioners, Clarkston School District, and WSU Asotin County Extension
  • Bellevue’s Youth Link Board - Advises the Bellevue City Council and City Manager on youth matters and programs and is authorized by the City to award funding for community youth projects. The Board is comprised of six youths and six adults appointed by the City Manager
  • Cheney Youth Commission - Created to serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor and the city council. The principal functions of the youth commission shall be to prepare a comprehensive plan for anticipating and influencing the desires of the youth of the community, and to make its recommendations thereon to the city council.
    • Cheney Municipal Code Ch. 2.09 - Board of Youth Commissioners
  • Clark County’s Youth Commission - A youth driven advisory board established by the Clark County Board of Commissioners in April 1998. Members ages 11-19 from throughout Clark County provide a youth-oriented point of view to the work of the Board of County Commissioners, county departments, and community organizations. The Youth Commission informs these groups about issues important to youth, makes suggestions on how to address the issues important to youth, and provides instruction on how to build positive partnerships with youth.
  • Everett Mayor’s Youth Council - Made up of youth in the Everett community between 14-18 years old. It aims to provide a vital link among Everett’s youth, the Everett community and Everett government. The council advises the Mayor on issues affecting youth in Everett and provides youth input on the Mayor’s policies.
  • Federal Way Youth Commission - Advisory body to the city council, other city boards, commissions and city staff on issues such as youth programs, recreational activities, dance clubs and other issues of importance to youth
  • Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth Advisory Board - Advises the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and residents on the needs of children, youth and families.
  • Mercer Island Municipal Code Ch. 3.54 - Youth and Family Services Board
  • Mill Creek Youth Advisory Board - Includes bylaws - Creates new programs for teens, organized special activities and plan community service opportunities
  • Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee - RYPAC’s purpose, under the direction of the City of Redmond, is to be a voice for young people and to promote a community where youth are valued and involved by providing opportunities for youth to develop leadership abilities and interest in volunteerism through participation in the creation and delivery of projects within the community
  • Sammamish Youth Board
  • Spokane (City and County) Chase Youth Commission - A joint venture of the City of Spokane and Spokane County
    • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 4.23 - Youth Commission - For the general purpose of providing a structure within local government to serve as a voice for youth, there is established the James E. Chase Youth Commission to advise and make recommendations to the youth department regarding policies, programs, planning, budgets, staffing and other matters relating to the quality of life of Spokane area children and youth.
  • Sumner Municipal Code Ch. 2.90 - Youth Advisory Commission - Advises the city council, mayor, other city boards and commissions, and city staff on matters affecting the young people of this community
  • Washington Youth Council Directory (Adobe Acrobat Document), Free Child Project

Additional References

  • Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Children, Youth & Family Education Research Network
  • Find Youth - Federal government website that helps create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs. Included are youth facts, funding information, and tools to help you assess community assets, generate maps of local and federal resources, search for evidence-based youth programs, and keep up-to-date on the latest, youth-related news
  • Involve Youth, Toronto, ON - A campaign to involve youth in decision making activites
  • Municipal Network on Disconnected Youth (MNDY), National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, & Families
  • National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
  • Public/Private Ventures - A national nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the effectiveness of social policies, programs and community initiatives, especially as they affect youth and young adults.
  • Team Child - A non-profit organization (Washington State) providing free civil legal advocacy and community education to assist youth who are involved in or at high risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system.
  • United States Department of Labor Division of Youth Services
  • Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Teen Workers
  • Youth Service America - Seeks to improve communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people, ages five through 25, serving in important roles. Founded in 1986, YSA is an international nonprofit resource center that partners with thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries to expand the impact of the youth service movement with families, communities, schools, corporations, and governments

1. About the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs - Composed of representatives from 12 Federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on youth

2. Synthesis of Research and Resources to Support at-Risk Youth(), Heather Koball, et al., OPRE Report No. OPRE 2011-22, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 2011

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.