Program landscape mapping, comprised of data gathered through a survey or online database, can help your community get a picture of services, supports and opportunities that are available to children and youth in your community. The data can help determine whether access to services differs based on a variety of factors, such as neighborhood or targeted age range, or whether there are disparities among different youth populations (e.g., by race, ethnicity, family income, citizenship status). The program landscape mapping process is an opportunity to re-frame how we look at programming for children and youth, moving from a focus on specific issues to a focus on the outcomes that we envision for children and youth in the community. Additionally, a program landscape map can help a community better understand the driving factors affecting programs, such as funding priorities, needed resources and current collaborations.
Program landscape maps have been used to provide better data and information to community leaders, schools, youth and families; to build broader partnerships through outreach and information-sharing; and to better coordinate efforts across many different providers.
Communities often complete program landscape maps because information is power and most stakeholders believe that there is too little coordinated information about youth programs. Young people and parents report that they do not know what’s available. Practitioners and program directors frequently operate in unproductive silos. Decision-makers and funders claim to have only fragments of the information they want and need about service and population reach and gaps. And the public is typically either under-informed or confused.