Theories & Approaches
Staff Assessment Exercise Two: Organizational Assessment Questionnaire
This questionnaire, developed by the Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services, can help you assess your organization's readiness to implement a youth development approach. Don't be alarmed if your organization currently has few of these types of activities in place. Think of this as a place to start generating ideas and thinking about how everything you do could take on a different tone and lead to different outcomes.
The questions are grouped into four sections:
A. Organizational Development
- What is the organizational vision or mission regarding implementing a youth development approach? Who was involved in creating that vision or mission? (Specifically, were any young people involved?)
- What has the organization done so far to ensure that all programs are based on a youth development (rather than problem-centered approach)?
- What will be necessary to help staff and board members shift their thinking about youth from a "deficit-based" to an "attribute-based" approach?
- What is the staff and board members’ understanding of the life development process, and what has the organization done to help them understand their own on-going development?
- How has the organization trained staff and board members about the adolescent development process?
- What has the organization done with regard to examining conditions that exist within the community, how young people experience those conditions, and how negative conditions might be improved?
- What has the organization done to remove the barriers to healthy youth development that exist within the neighborhood, community, and nation?
B. Programs and Services
- Does the organization offer young people programs that do the following:
- Provide a full range of services and opportunities?
- Enable young people to develop new skills?
- Teach personal life skills, such as solving problems, making decisions, setting and achieving goals, and creating and maintaining harmonious interpersonal relationships?
- Connect young people to caring adults (other than staff) and then support those connections?
- Support young people’s educational experiences?
- Provide academic and employment preparation and internships?
- Enable young people to consider and plan for their future?
- Address the general problems of adolescence or specific difficulties without labeling youth as "troubled"?
- Mix young people from various backgrounds?
- Expose youth to new events, circumstances, opportunities, and locations?
- Teach young people about what to expect from, or how to handle, real-life situations such as planning for the future, getting married, having children, maintaining employment, developing hobbies or special interests, celebrating successes, or adjusting to loss?
- Place young people in supported leadership positions through which they are exposed to the challenges and satisfactions of collaborating with others to explore options, make decisions, and achieve positive outcomes?
- Connect youth to the community through special projects or links to on-going community efforts or activities?
- Does the organization offer guidance to youth about how to take advantage of services and opportunities (provided through the organization, through other agencies, and in the larger community)?
- How does the organization address young people’s need to take part in activities that are functional, educational, and fun?
- What characteristics demonstrate that a youth development approach underlies program efforts?
- How are the results of program efforts to support adolescent development measured and shared?
C. Outreach and Education
- What is the prevailing youth policy (state or local), and how has the organization worked to inform the policy process with regard to youth development?
- How has the organization worked with the community to create and communicate a vision of what is necessary for the positive development of young people?
- How has the organization addressed the culturally based negative feelings about adolescents? How will it do so in the future?
- How has the organization used the media to counteract the current projection of negative images about youth that shape public opinion and therefore public policy?
D. Collaborating with Other Youth Services Providers, Young People, and the Community
- How does the agency collaborate with other youth services providers to develop strategies for moving toward a youth development approach to helping young people within the community? The state? The region?
- How would other youth services providers characterize the agency’s contributions to improving youth policy and practice?
- What has the organization done to truly involve youth, families, and community members in designing and evaluating programs and developing strategies for rebuilding communities?
- What types of situations has the organization created in which young people are valued and included?
- How will the organization help the community to shift its thinking about youth from a "deficit-based" to an "attribute-based" approach?
- How will the organization help the community to understand and value adolescent development as part of a lifelong developmental process?
- What real outcomes have resulted from the organization’s collaborative efforts in the past?
- What real outcomes is the organization working toward through its current collaborative efforts?