Interagency Working Group Develops Plan that Addresses Youth Issues

After holding a comment period, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs released the finalized strategic plan, Pathways for Youth. The plan supports federal departments and agencies in addressing issues faced by youth, emphasizing the most vulnerable youth who are disconnected from school, work, or family.

The Working Group engaged in a multi-step process to develop the strategic plan and engaged a wide range of stakeholders (young people, families, schools, non-profit organizations, state Children’s Cabinet directors, and government organizations at the federal, state, and local levels) in sharing their views. AIR staff supported the Working Group by conducting listening sessions across the country and spearheading the gathering of relevant information through the Working Group’s website

Young people who are disconnected from school, work or family cost the nation billions of dollars every year in lost earnings, welfare and medical costs, and unmet personal potential (see The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth). Disconnected youth and those at risk for disconnection experience interrelated issues best addressed through a coordinated approach. For example, youth are more likely to graduate from high school or receive a Certificate of General Educational Development if they have transportation to classes; to keep a job if they address mental health or substance abuse concerns; and to transition out of a homeless shelter if they have connections to supportive adults and resources to secure a permanent home and employment.

Federal coordination is critical to supporting vulnerable youth. The strategic plan represents an initial step in identifying strategies for federal collaboration and future action to promote positive outcomes for youth. The plan’s vision acknowledges the importance of creating pathways to opportunity for youth that include meaningful connections and safe, healthy, stable places to live, learn, and work. Its three strategic goals promote

  • coordinated federal strategies;
  • use of evidence-based and innovative strategies at federal, state, local and tribal levels; and
  • engagement and partnerships with youth to strengthen programs.

The strategic plan outlines key cross-cutting initiatives: developing shared language, creating new—or assessing and disseminating existing—models of collaboration, disseminating information on promising and evidence-based strategies, and promoting data collection and long-term evaluation. The strategic plan is distinct from individual agency plans because its focus is on federal collaboration, and it aligns with other federal strategic plans. Through the work of individual agencies and in collaboration across departments, the Working Group will pursue the goals to improve outcomes for youth.

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs is composed of representatives from 12 federal departments and seven federal agencies that support youth programs and services. The Working Group promotes the goal of positive, healthy outcomes for youth. AIR supports the Working Group’s website,, and contributes significant expertise in youth content. For more information and to download the strategic plan, visit