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Youth and Youth-At-Risk Programs

This page provides examples of local government programs in Washington State that target at-risk youth, along with related articles and resources.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adolescent Health page lists adolescent health and risk behaviors. It notes that government agencies, community organizations, schools, and other community members must work together in a comprehensive approach to have the most positive impact on adolescent health. Providing safe and nurturing environments for our nation's youth can help ensure that adolescents will be healthy and productive members of society.

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP) notes in the introduction to their Prevent Youth Violence page, that youth violence and crime affect a community's economic health, as well as individuals' physical and mental health and well-being. Each neighborhood and community has unique experiences with violence and different resources available to them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing youth violence. However, communities can help reduce youth violence by developing a city-wide strategy that combines prevention, intervention, treatment, and re-entry strategies.

There appears to be no general definition of youth at risk, though there is a definition for at-risk youth in RCW 13.32A.030, as it relates to juvenile courts and juvenile offenders. A report done for the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families on resources for serving at-risk youth, uses the term at-risk youth to refer to young people for whom the probability of successfully transitioning to adulthood and achieving economic self-sufficiency is low (see Synthesis of Research and Resources to Support at-Risk Youth).

The Problem of At-Risk Youth

The listed citations relate to the problem of at-risk youth, its societal implications, and a discussion of prevention measures.

Programs that Focus on Youth

Local Government Programs

  • Bellevue Youth Link - Youth leadership program sponsored by the City of Bellevue, Parks & Community Services Department, and Bellevue Public Schools
  • Clark County
    • Youth House - A youth empowerment center developed by the Clark County Department of Community Services. The foundation of the Youth House is built on the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets developed by the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    • Youth Program - Addresses the needs of youth and their families throughout Clark County. The focus of our work is youth-driven and designed to promote the health of youth by building on their strengths
  • Kirkland Parks and Community Services Youth Services - Mission is to build a community in which families, neighbors, schools, and organizations all work together to enable young people to become competent, contributing, and responsible members of the community with a feeling of hope for the future
  • Mercer Island
    • Communities that Care Project - A program that follows the Drug Free Communities (DFC) model
    • Youth and Family Services - Services include individual and family counseling; senior adult outreach; elementary, middle school and high school counseling; alcohol and drug prevention and intervention services for youth; juvenile court diversion services; family assistance and support; employment services; volunteering and leadership development; and advocacy and community planning. MIYFS also contracts with area service providers to deliver specialized sexual assault, domestic violence and legal resource services

Law and Justice Programs

Programs Operated through Park and Recreation Departments

  • Bainbridge Metro Parks Teen Programs Center - Provides recreation center amenities, teen activities, concerts, youth service projects
  • Ellensburg Park and Recreation Youth Center
  • Metro Parks Tacoma SPARX - A youth development program in all nine of Tacoma's middle schools as well at the Lincoln Center at Lincoln HS. It is coordinated by Metro Parks with funding support from the City of Tacoma and facility support from Tacoma Public Schools
  • Redmond Parks and Recreation Teens - Old Fire House Teen Center
  • Seattle Parks & Recreation Teens - Mission is to improve and enhance the self-esteem, opportunities, knowledge, cultural awareness and well being among Seattle teens.
  • Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Teens

Transportation Programs

  • Clallam Transit Summer Youth Pass - Provided as an example, no longer valid. All youth, ages 6 through 19,summer travel throughout the county on regular fixed-route
  • King County News Release August 31, 2011, Youth in Crisis Can Seek Out a King County Metro Bus for Help,
  • Olympia Intercity Transit Youth Programs - Smart Moves program provide educational opportunities, encouragement campaigns, and programs in schools to increase biking, walking, and bus riding The youth education program, promotes environmental stewardship relating to transportation.
  • Snohomish Community Transit - Service to Skate Parks - Encourages youth to take a bus to skate parks in the county

Youth Advisory Boards and Commissions

Below are a few examples of youth advisory boards established by cities and counties in Washington. For other examples see Youth Participation in Local Government.

  • Asotin County Youth Commission - Sponsored by Asotin County Commissioners, Clarkston School District, and WSU Asotin County Extension
  • Bellevue Youth Link Board - Advises the Bellevue City Council and City Manager on youth matters and programs and is authorized by the City to award funding for community youth projects. The Board is comprised of six youths and six adults appointed by the City Manager
  • Cheney
    • Youth Commission - Created to serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor and the city council. The principal functions of the youth commission shall be to prepare a comprehensive plan for anticipating and influencing the desires of the youth of the community, and to make its recommendations thereon to the city council.
    • Cheney Municipal Code Ch. 2.09 - Board of Youth Commissioners
  • Everett Mayor’s Youth Council - Made up of youth in the Everett community between 14-18 years old. It aims to provide a vital link among Everett’s youth, the Everett community and Everett government. The council advises the Mayor on issues affecting youth in Everett and provides youth input on the Mayor’s policies.
  • Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth Advisory Board - Advises the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and residents on the needs of children, youth and families.
  • Mercer Island
    • Youth and Family Services Advisory Board - Makes recommendations on policy, programs, budget, public relations and fundraising for Youth and Family Services
    • Mercer Island Municipal Code Ch. 3.54 - Youth, Senior, and Family Services Board
  • Mill Creek Youth Advisory Board - Creates new programs for teens, organized special activities and plan community service opportunities
  • Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee - RYPAC’s purpose, under the direction of the City of Redmond, is to be a voice for young people and to promote a community where youth are valued and involved by providing opportunities for youth to develop leadership abilities and interest in volunteerism through participation in the creation and delivery of projects within the community
  • Sammamish Youth Board
  • Spokane (City and County)
    • Chase Youth Commission - A joint venture of the City of Spokane and Spokane County
    • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 4.23 - Youth Commission - For the general purpose of providing a structure within local government to serve as a voice for youth, there is established the James E. Chase Youth Commission to advise and make recommendations to the youth department regarding policies, programs, planning, budgets, staffing and other matters relating to the quality of life of Spokane area children and youth.
  • Stanwood Youth Programs and Services
  • Sumner Municipal Code Ch. 2.90 - Youth Advisory Commission - Advises the city council, mayor, other city boards and commissions, and city staff on matters affecting the young people of this community

Additional Resources

Last Modified: September 22, 2016