DCF Becomes Part of National Youth Thrive Learning Community

17 December 2015

Essex Junction, VT – DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz is pleased to announce that, after a national competition, the Vermont Department for Children and Families has been selected as one of five inaugural members of the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP) Youth Thrive™ Learning Community. The goal of the program is to create systemic changes that help reduce the risks young people face while building on factors that promote their healthy development and well-being.

Youth Thrive™ is a research-informed framework that functions as a lens for assessing current efforts and making needed changes to policies, programs, trainings, services, partnerships and systems that impact young people.

“We are honored to have been awarded a place in this learning community,” said Commissioner Schatz. “Our state team is excited about having the opportunity to work with a national group that’s recognized for working with state systems to move the needle on child well-being.  We’ll use what we learn, from CSSP and other team members, to assess our policies and practices and systematically get better at what we do.  Our goal is to best support the healthy development of youth in our care.” 

Over the coming months, the Vermont Team will work with CSSP staff to assess nearly every aspect of our work with youth — from licensing procedures and community partnerships to leadership development and contracting — to determine where changes are needed. This work will be led by DCF staff and Washington County Youth Services.  In the spring, team members will join the four other organizations selected (Westchester County Department of Social Services, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, New York City Department of Probation, and Georgia Division of Family and Children Services) and the original two Youth Thrive™ sites (New Jersey Department of Children and Families and the Brevard Family Partnership) for peer exchange and to set a work agenda for 2016.

“Being part of the learning community puts Vermont at the center of a national movement to elevate youth care work in light of a growing understanding of the developing adolescent brain’” said Kreig Pinkham, team member and Executive Director of Washington County Youth Service Bureau. “It is the next step in a journey that a number of dedicated youth care workers have been on for over a decade – one that will see Vermont leading the country in integrating best practice and developmentally-informed approaches to help all youth recognize their unique strengths and envision ways that these strengths can improve communities.”

This approach for working with youth fits well with the strengths-based approach being implemented in Vermont’s early childhood system of care, which began using CSSP’s ‘Strengthening Families’ model of family partnership and service a few years ago.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national organization recognized for its leadership in shaping policy, reforming public systems and building the capacity of communities. We support elected officials, public administrators, families and neighborhood residents to take the actions they need. Our goal is to make sure children can learn, develop and thrive with the support of strong families, in safe and healthy communities. To learn more about the CSSP and the Youth Thrive Learning Community, visit http://cssp.org

The Vermont Department for Children and Families delivers a wide array of programs and services to Vermonters in areas such as child care, child development, child protection, child support, disability determination, and economic benefits that help meet basic needs. To learn more about DCF, go to http://dcf.vermont.gov