This week, we’re building on a recent post, continuing the theme of master planning – but with a more targeted approach.
The National League of Cities (NLC) has catalogued more than 30 comprehensive youth master plans throughout the U.S. These plans (sometimes referred to as youth agendas, city blueprints, or children’s bills of rights) are typically developed through approaches similar to those used to guide land use and infrastructure decisions, but with a focus on young people. According to the NLC, these plans allow “city officials, school leaders, community partners and youth to take stock of local programs and services for young people, identify cost savings, reduce duplication of services, and strategically address pressing needs.”
Even my own hometown, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, has a Youth Master Plan which primarily focuses on process and encourages “participation, communication, and collaboration” through outreach activities (such as developing a website and mentoring program). La Cañada’s plan is a good start, but I believe we need to aim higher – we need to encourage the development of master plans that are outcomes focused, such as the Child & Youth Master Plan developed for Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, TN.
Developed in 2010 by a task force appointed by Mayor Karl Dean, the master plan focuses on 14 outcomes “for our future.” Each outcome is framed both by “key findings” and “strategic objectives” across five key subcommittee areas: health, safety, out-of-school time, education/lifestyle, and mobility/stability.
In the January 2012 installment of the Ready by 21 Policy Alignment Series, the Forum for Youth Investment recommended that New Policies Should Align with Existing Goals and Plans for Children and Youth and applauded the Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County plan for working toward collective impact by building on existing momentum where possible. The community has made significant strides in the area of healthy eating and active living with a $7.5 million investment of federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) dollars. Instead of starting from scratch, the Child & Youth Master Plan rallied around existing CPPW objectives. This approach saved valuable time and dollars and ensured alignment of efforts going forward.
The National League of Cities’ Youth, Education, and Families (YEF) Institute website offers a wealth of information for communities interested in developing youth master plans, including examples of cities’ plans and an action kit to guide development.
YEF also hosts a regular webinar series with topics that may interest IPH readers. Two are worth nothing in the context of this post:
● Using Ready by 21 Tools to Guide Youth Master Planning (aired March 21, 2012)
● Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth Through Collective Impact (aired February 15, 2012)
Dubuque, IA has also demonstrated leadership in this area, with a Youth Master Plan that focuses on five “promises,” including caring adults, safe places, healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to serve others. Dubuque aims for broad citizen participation, asking business leaders, educators, foundations, faith leaders, community leaders, parents (and other caring adults) -- as well as youth -- the important question of “What can you do?” -- and answers with concrete suggestions for “What you can do.”
We all can agree that any plan is only as good as what people do with it. But creating the plan is a critical first and very important step. Plans allow communities to progress from “What can you do?” to “What you can do” to “What we can do” to “Look what we’ve done.”
So here’s to master plans and youth master plans, tailored to the needs and resources of communities across the country. Here’s to planning, doing, and improving population health along the way.
Kirstin Q. Siemering, DrPH, RD is Social Media Lead with the County Health Rankings & Roadmapsprogram at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.