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State Leaders Focus on Improving Youth Services

State officials from around the country gathered in Washington last week to discuss ways to improve services for young people back home. The two-day Children's Cabinet Symposium brought together officials from 13 states and territories to talk about such issues as evaluating state-funded programs, working across agencies to achieve collective impact, managing data across agencies and getting more flexibility with federal dollars.
Information Update
July 26, 2012

"The symposium gave us a unique opportunity to have small-group, substantive discussions with states tackling similar challenges," said Cecile de Jongh, first lady of the U.S. Virgin Islands. She left with "ideas and tools that I will bring home and use to improve the lives of children and youth."

Among the issues discussed:

  • The increasing use of evaluation and evidence to decide what programs to fund, including "pay for performance" strategies and the Results First initiative, which helps states assess the costs and benefits of policy options.
  • Efforts by state agencies to improve their collective impact. One example: Joint budget planning across agencies.
  • How to improve programs through a continuous quality improvement cycle, rather than simply "monitoring" contractors to fulfill basic requirements. (Read about the quality improvement model discussed at the symposium.)

Children's Cabinets are typically made up of the heads of all state government agencies with child- and youth-serving programs. They meet regularly to coordinate services, develop a common set of outcomes and implement plans to foster the well-being of young people in their states. The Children's Cabinet Network, which sponsored the symposium, is managed by the Forum for Youth Investment. Find out more about children's cabinets and the Children's Cabinet Network here.