Community Approaches to Improving Outcomes for Urban Children, Youth, and Families
Dale A. Blyth
University of Minnesota
Before commenting on the strong chapter by Connell and Kubisch, as well as the larger issues they and others raised, I wish to make explicit up front that my comments come out of three recent experiences. First, efforts to help communities understand how they impact their youth's development: How do we, as professionals who study youth development, help communities become more intentional about their support of children and youth? Second, efforts to systematically evaluate such efforts: If we are to learn from what communities are trying, we must be able to establish evaluation systems that not only capture the impact of neighborhoods but also the impact of initiatives designed to improve the development of all children and youth within those “villages. ” And finally, direct observations of how the Community Action Framework for Youth Development is being applied to the 20-year initiative noted in their chapter. These experiences, often done in the framework of Search Institute's 40 assets youth need to succeed, have shaped my thinking and informed my perspectives.
Let me begin by saying I believe the “village” has an enormous influence on how children and especially adolescents develop. This belief comes from both an empirical and a theoretical understanding of how context and people's understanding of context affects their development in a host of direct and indirect ways. Although these effects are difficult to measure, and although we have only begun to have the sophisticated methodological approaches talked about by Sampson and his colleagues, the effects are real and important. This realization is especially true in an era where changes in families, macroeconomic factors, and policies have caused an erosion in how communities operate and in their ability to impact children and adolescents. The question in my mind, and the one that I believe the Connell and Kubisch chapter addresses most directly, is not whether it takes a village, or to what extent it takes a village, or even how we accurately capture the
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Publication information: Book title: Does It Take a Village? Community Effects on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Contributors: Alan Booth - Editor, Ann C. Crouter - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 223.
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