Office of Children and Family Services

The Office of Youth and Young Adult Services

Youth Development Policy Statement

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) serves New York’s public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of our children, families and communities.

Purpose
OCFS is committed to the promotion and development of self-sufficient families and individuals.  OCFS expects that all children and youth in programs operated or regulated by OCFS will receive:

  • equal access to quality services;
  • appropriate individualized treatment  that  respects gender and sexual orientation, and cultural, physical, social, emotional and linguistic needs; and
  • care in environments that promote developmental assets. 

OCFS believes that creating conditions that promote the development of children, youth and families is a responsibility shared by all.  OCFS is committed to working inclusively and collaboratively within our own agency and with other state agencies, local governments, community-based agencies, schools, young people, their families and communities as a whole to promote and advance the principles and practices of youth development.  The goal is to create an array of practices and tools that help and support young people preparing for college, work and life.

The purpose of this youth development policy statement is to encourage the use of youth development principles that help youth achieve developmental assets and skills that support a successful transition to self-sufficiency.  These assets include the following broad development domains: physical, intellectual, psychological, emotional, and social*.

Components of Quality Youth Development Programming:
OCFS seeks to promote the development of multifaceted quality programs that will create an environment where youth can grow, learn, thrive and develop to their fullest potential.  Quality youth development programs for children and youth should include the following features*:

  • physical and psychological safety
  • appropriate structure that provides clear limit setting, rules and expectations
  • supportive relationships
  • opportunities to belong; meaningful inclusion regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability  
  • positive social norms
  • support for efficacy (ability to produce effects) and mattering (be of importance) by engaging, empowering, and challenging youth to make a difference
  • opportunities for skill-building
  • integration of family, school, and community efforts

These strategies cut across all disciplines that help children grow from early childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood to become competent and healthy adults, and develop to their full potential.

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