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Establish a balanced set of goals and indicators for all children, youth and young adults

– that includes preparation and problem-reduction in all areas of development.
August 9, 2011

Conceiving goals and indicators is easy. The challenge is getting community leaders to agree on goals and indicators that cover all young people of all age groups, in all aspects of their lives – from education and health to interpersonal skills and job readiness.


Taking the comprehensive approach is difficult but crucial: Improving child and youth outcomes requires attending to young people’s overall development. That means:

  • Setting goals across age groups.
  • Setting goals across various types of outcomes.
  • Ensuring that the goals and indicators are designed to prevent problems and promote assets.
  • Tracking progress, especially among those most at risk of not meeting the goals.

Here are some resources that address common questions:

How can we communicate goals?

Try dashboards – two-dimensional visuals that are simple yet powerful. Leaders who have implemented Ready by 21 have found Dashboards for Youth to be especially effective for showing a community where it stands and where it needs to go on various measures of youth readiness.

How do we determine what goals are most important to our community?

Community meetings can be exhilarating, informative – and frustrating. We’ve all been to talkfests where everyone gets to be heard but no one leaves with a focus or plan.

There’s another way to find out what leaders think should be the goals for the community. Once again, a dashboard can help: The Forum for Youth Investment’s Outcomes Dashboard Facilitator’s Packet is designed to guide leaders through a process of thinking about and prioritizing their goals for young people. Just as importantly, it enables everyone to see how their goals fit into the bigger picture of the entire community.

Help me make the case for better indicators.

You don’t just want everyone nodding at the idea that better data is good. If you are going to call for more robust indicators
that reflect the big picture of child and youth development, you need to prompt conversation about

  • The quality of data in your community. It’s probably not as strong as many people assume.
  • How to gather data that covers the full range of child and youth outcomes.

This review of data sources for tracking child and youth well-being makes the case and guides users to the kind of data they should look for.

How do we select indicators for our community?

Start by tapping two great sources:

  • Yourself – that is, the indicators that your community already collects and those that leaders want to collect.
  • Existing sets of indicators, developed by national experts, that reflect a broad set of goals for children and youth.

The Ready by 21 Indicator Dashboard recommends top indicators that are commonly found in community data. The selection was developed by the Forum for Youth Investment and Child Trends, both of which are Ready by 21 Partners.


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