Investing In Youth Today, Improving Conditions Tomorrow
Ready by 21
The Ready by 21 Quality Counts initiative is focused on improving the quality and reach of youth programs and strengthening local policies that guide resource allocation, accountability and workforce development. As one of only 12 sites nationally, MCCOY is directing the local effort to engage our community, assess leadership and program capacity, identify policy priorities and build momentum for quality improvement.
Ready by 21 Quality Counts Core Components
Program Quality. The initiative is based on the belief that participation in high-quality programs can influence key developmental outcomes for children and youth. Therefore, assessing and improving quality at the “point-of-service” where youth and adults interact is at the heart of the initiative. MCCOY has made quality a priority in central Indiana by facilitating the research-validated Youth Program Quality Assessment and the Quality Improvement System (YPQA/I) to measure, evaluate and improve local youth programs.
The Youth-Serving Workforce. In order to build an effective, sustainable quality improvement system for youth programs, attention must be paid to building a strong, stable, skilled workforce. Through advocacy on behalf of the youth development community and our Learning Network initiatives, MCCOY provides opportunities and support for professional growth of youth workers.
The Program Landscape. Building a quality assessment system that reaches across the range of youth programs in a community requires accurate information about the programmatic landscape. Using ROY, MCCOY is gathering information about program services in our community, including who is served, what is offered, when programming is available, and why, where and how agencies do their work. This data, along with insight gained from youth program quality assessments, will allow us to pinpoint gaps, identify strengths, and examine the level and quality of opportunities available to young people in central Indiana.
The Policy, Resource, Leadership Landscape. A shared vision; supportive policies, structures, and funding; and leaders and decision-makers who are engaged and supportive are critical to building and sustaining a quality improvement system. The Ready by 21 framework and tools help engage leaders in “big picture” planning and decision-making on behalf of children and youth and build demand for quality services.
The Ready by 21 Quality Counts framework is provided through the partnership of the Forum for Youth Investment, High/Scope Educational Research Foundation and the AED National Training Institute for Community Youth Work.
“Ensuring that all youth are ready for college, work and life by the age of 21 not only requires increasing the quantity of investments in youth, but also the quality of the programs which serve youth,” says Karen Pittman, executive director of the Forum for Youth Investment. “The Ready by 21™ Quality Counts Initiative Sites will develop coordinated quality improvement systems, guaranteeing that when a young person walks into a youth program he or she will receive a powerful, transformative experience.”
“The Youth Program Quality Assessment tool is based on a solid body of research on what works in raising children to adulthood,” says Larry Schweinhart, president of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. “Our challenge is to firmly install effective programs and practices in every community. Defining and assessing program quality is central.”