A City Platform for Children and Families - Strategies for Moving Forward

Developing a comprehensive municipal agenda for strengthening families and improving outcomes for children and youth requires sustained effort. Local leaders have moved forward on these issues from different starting points, reflecting the diverse strengths and needs of their communities. However, the following strategies are frequently associated with successful city initiatives that foster effective and enduring change on behalf of children and their families:

  1. Build or strengthen the city's "local infrastructure" through a municipal commission, mayor's task force, or community partnership or coalition that brings together leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors as well as parents and other community residents.
  2. Promote effective city-school collaboration through regular meetings between the mayor and/or city council, school board, and school superintendent that focus on shared priorities and the development of joint plans of action.
  3. Encourage and support authentic youth voice, engagement, and leadership through multiple mechanisms, including a mayor's youth council, appointment of youth to municipal boards and committees, and community-wide youth summits.
  4. Identify and implement policies or programs that reflect best practices and can serve as the central pillars of city efforts to strengthen families and improve outcomes for children and youth.
  5. Set local goals or targets and then measure progress over time through use of a community "scorecard" or the development of a youth master plan that promotes collaboration among city agencies and provides a blueprint for future action.
  6. Designate a lead staff person and/or a "point person" in the community to help ensure that implementation efforts stay on track and key stakeholders are following through on their commitments.
  7. Learn from the experience of other cities and towns by reaching out to other municipal leaders in your state or region and taking advantage of the many educational offerings and peer learning opportunities sponsored by the YEF Institute.
  8. Challenge the entire community to do more, creating a culture of shared responsibility and accountability that encourages all residents to play a role in building a better future for its children and families.