The Evolution of Youth Programming
Implications of Funding Trends and Agency Policies for Program Offerings
Public funding for categorical services for at-risk and troubled children has surged into many traditional youth-serving agencies over the past decade, reshaping the profile of their services, and, in some cases, altering their missions. It has also had an indirect effect on the provision of the youth development programs that have traditionally been a large part of these agencies' activities. This working paper examines some of the changes that have occurred in the area of primary supports, and how they have both influenced and been influenced by changes in funding, staffing, and other guidelines. Among these changes are a focus on younger children (particularly ages zero to four years) and a "specialization" of services, to concentrate on areas such as substance abuse, foster care services, and teen pregnancy. These programs have been required to spend more money on items like insurance and credentials rather than providing more programs for children. Further, rather than catering to children of all ages and operating on a drop-in basis, these programs are forced to limit the number of youths that participate.