Promoting Public Health Through Youth Development

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has adopted the principles of positive youth development as the underpinnings for advancing its public health program and policy objectives regarding young people. Since the mid-1990s, NYSDOH has made consistent and steady progress in embracing and implementing youth development approaches.

  • In 1998, together with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the Department formed the Youth Development Team, a public-private partnership comprised of over 40 organizational members. The Youth Development Team promotes a shift in policies and programs to focus on youth assets and strengths, rather than deficits; to perceive youth as problem-solvers, rather than problems; and to respect youth as capable of helping themselves as well as others.
  • In 1999, through the advent of a new initiative known as ACT for Youth, the NYSDOH mobilized significant resources to advance youth development statewide. Youth development concepts and models are now well-established in programs administered by the AIDS Institute and the Center for Community Health's Bureau of Child and Adolescent Health.
  • In 2003, the Department instructed newly funded prevention programs to view peer programs as youth development programs and provided guidance for measuring and evaluating assets and strengths of peer educators.
  • In 2005, a competitive solicitation to continue the ACT for Youth initiative was issued. In January 2006 awards were announced for 12 local collaborations and a Center of Excellence.
  • In 2006, a Supplement of the "Journal of Public Health Management and Practice" highlighted significant progress in adoption of youth development principles within the Department, by funded programs and in communities across the state.
  • In 2007, in conjunction with the ACT for Youth annual conference, a Governor's Proclamation designated May 1, 2007 as "Youth Development Day" in NYS (PDF, 78KB, 1pg.).

To build upon this momentum, the Department has developed "Guidelines for Integrating Youth Development into Health Department Programs".

The Department encourages providers, educators, funders, policy-makers, researchers and others to assess the extent to which program and services exemplify principles of youth development and take steps to further promote public health through integration of youth development principles.