The well-being of the United States depends upon the well-being of our children and youth. At present, populations of young people may be identified as vulnerable based on situational characteristics such as early parenthood, disconnection from school and work, homelessness, and involvement in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
Support for healthy development is an integral part of a solid foundation for young people. 4-H programs have helped provide that foundation for millions of youth across the country. But data sources suggest that specific populations, including but not limited to those growing up in low income households, children and youth of color, legal immigrants and their children, and children and youth with (dis)abilities, are significantly under-served by 4-H. These vulnerable populations — which comprise a large and growing percentage of our country’s young people — disproportionately contend with conditions that often compromise healthy development and access to support for it, even as they carry rich cultural resources and cultivate strength and insight through adversity.
The Division of Youth and 4-H is leading the effort to expand access to meaningful positive youth development opportunities, engaging the expertise of the Extension, land-grant universities and its faculty, educators and researchers. The Division of Youth and 4-H will ensure inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) through its work with vulnerable youth, engaging underserved and underrepresented populations.