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The Developmental Assets®

The Developmental Assets® are 40 research-based, positive qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become become caring, responsible, and productive adults. Based in youth development, resiliency, and prevention research, the Developmental Assets framework has proven to be effective and has become the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States and, increasingly, around the world. The framework has been adapted to be developmentally relevant from early childhood through adolescence.

Who needs them? Why are they important?

Over time, studies of more than 4 million young people consistently show that the more assets that young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive. Research shows that youth with the most assets are least likely to engage in four different patterns of high-risk behavior, including problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. When they have higher levels of assets, they are more likely to do well in school, be civically engaged, and value diversity.

The positive power of assets is evident across all cultural and socioeconomic groups of youth in the United States as well as other parts of the world. Furthermore, levels of assets are better predictors of high-risk involvement and thriving than poverty, family structure, or other demographic difference. However, the average young person experiences fewer than half of the 40 assets.

Find out more about the 40 Developmental Assets from the Search Institute!

Click here to see how the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County implements some of the Assets in our daily programming!

Click here for a list of the 40 Assets for youth aged 8-12.

Click here for a list of the 40 Assets for youth aged 12-18.

Youth Development - What this means in our Philosophy of Care for the Youth We Serve

YSB is excited to move towards programming that facilitates Youth Development.  Knowledge of latest practices in Youth Development (grounded in the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets ®) has been obtained and integration into our culture of care has begun.

What we have learned:  In the past, youth care professionals have considered youth development to be anything that helps a youth move along in the system or program.  There was a focus on whatever their problem was and how to “fix” it.  If we stop the bad behavior they would be O.K. and therefore they will be “developing”.  The result has been young people moving into society with the same problems and often repeating unhealthy behaviors that were used with them.  There has been an assumption that “problem-free is fully prepared.” 

Knowing our place and being a contributing member of our community have always been crucial steps in our human development.  Even as adults, we often measure our worth by how we interact with and how much we can give to society, our community and our families.  One study done by The Center for Youth Development and Policy Research indicated that when young people have ongoing opportunities and supports, their lives follow a positive path.  They are less like to engage in problem behaviors, but more likely to achieve developmental outcomes. 

What we are moving towards:  Youth development is a process, not an event.  It is how we interact everyday with young people and how we provide opportunities for them to participate in the process.  Our programs need to be youth focused.  Those programs that are youth focused recognize youth as a valuable resource.  As a result, youth becomes more involved in what happens to them while in care.  They take responsibility for their role in care, become involved in their communities and learn critical skills that help them transition into adulthood regardless of their circumstances.  They take ownership in their care and learn they can make a difference in the world around them.  Without this youth development approach, programs do not maximize opportunities for the development of young people. 

            As youth care professionals, our attitudes, values and beliefs about young people are key in working with youth.  We have to practice “doing WITH youth” not “doing TO youth” if we want our work to be productive with youth. 

             Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County’s programming will align with the following Five (5) premises of care to youth[1]:

            Premise #1 – Children and youth in care must receive services that do more than focus on problems or deficits.  They need a wide range of appropriately challenging and supportive opportunities to explore, learn and grow as individuals.

            Premise #2 – Children and youth in care and their families must be engaged and actively involved in all aspects of the services they receive.  This includes assessment, goal setting, case planning, activities, program design and program evaluation.

            Premise #3 – Children and youth in care must have opportunities to establish caring relationships in their lives.  Their growth and progress occurs within the context of their relationships with staff, peers, family members, and other caring adults.
 
            Premise #4 – Children and youth in residential care must be served in programs that take into account environmental influences on growth and progress.  Environments include physical, cultural, philosophical, and social dimensions.

            Premise #5 – Children and youth in care must be served in programs that collaborate and form partnerships with a number of resources.  Our culture of care must be SAFE, HEALTHY, and ACCESSIBLE in order to create an environment that promotes learning, practice and growth.

Ultimately, we strive to promote safety, well-being, permanent connections and self-sufficiency.

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[1] Premise adopted from The Residential Child and Youth Care Professional Curriculum, National Resource Center for Youth Services, The University of Oklahoma OUTREACH, 2005

 

 

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