Stories Worth Sharing: 2013 Annual Report

Pat Paluzzi, DrPH

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH

Check out the Healthy Teen Network 2013 Annual Report. Available only online, we highlight several stories of projects from the 2012-2013 fiscal year. You’ll learn more about our efforts to crowdfund to print and disseminate a graphic novel, conduct a community assessment, and develop a motion graphic to link teens to sexual health care services. You’ll hear stories from our members, including two young mothers, as they share their experiences attending the Healthy Teen Network conference, attending trainings, and partnering together to make a difference. As always, we continuously strive to improve our efforts to build your capacity to promote healthy youth development…and so, we invite you to share your stories with us, too. For us, these are stories worth sharing.

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, is the President/CEO of Healthy Teen Network

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New Opportunities to Guide Opportunity Youth to Career Opportunities!

Bob Reeg

Bob Reeg

You might have missed this news, since it was barely covered in the mainstream press, but the U.S. Congress actually DID do something of importance to young people before taking its summer recess. In late July, it passed and President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the first revitalization of the public workforce system since 1998–yes, over fifteen years!

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act matters to adolescents and young adults as it positions public workforce system leaders and workforce service providers to better support youth at greatest risk of failure to obtain jobs and enter career pathways. Soon, local workforce authorities receiving WIOA formula grant funds will be required to spend at least 75 percent of those funds on out-of-school youth, compared to just 30 percent under the WIOA predecessor law, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

WIOA also changes youth eligibility requirements by establishing separate criteria for out-of-school and in-school youth, including removing income eligibility requirements for most out-of-school youth and raising the eligible age for such youth to 16 through 24. In-school youth age eligibility continues to be ages 14-21.

Also, WIOA places a new priority on work-based learning by providing that at least 20 percent of local youth formula funds be used for work experiences such as summer jobs, pre-apprenticeship training, on-the-job training and internships that have academic and occupational education as a component.

WIOA links youth workforce services to the attainment of secondary school diplomas, entry into postsecondary education and career readiness, and to the attainment of postsecondary credentials aligned with in-demand industry sectors or occupations. Additional allowable activities include financial literacy education and entrepreneurial skills training.

Also, under the new law, youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services so they can successfully obtain competitive integrated employment. And WIOA reauthorizes and enhances two workforce programs of particular importance to marginalized youth– Job Corps and YouthBuild. The new law preserves a feature of the predecessor WIA in that pregnant and parenting youth are specifically identified as a subpopulation of both out-of-school youth and in-school youth.

To learn even more about the youth provisions of WIOA, visit the websites of Healthy Teen Network allies, the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Youth Employment Coalition.

Enactment of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, as well as the Obama Administration’s recent release of Ready to Work, a report and recommendations for strengthening federal job training programs, ensures that there will be considerable policy implementation activity bubbling at the state and local levels of government in the next months and years. Assuredly, opportunities will arise for organizations and individuals that support youth, including adolescent sexual and reproductive health professionals, to weigh-in as their public workforce systems and funded providers adjust to the new rules of the road.

I have uncovered a few informational resources to get you prepped for local action. First, I draw your attention to What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence, which the Obama Administration released as part of its Ready to Work initiative.  This publication includes a most helpful chapter summarizing the evidence on the effectiveness of job training programs for youth. What has been found to work includes: early exposure to career and higher education information and opportunities; work experiences for youth still in school; occupation- and industry-based training programs, and comprehensive and integrated models that combine education, occupational skills, and support services.

Another resource to check out is Mentoring Youth and Young Parents: A Guidebook for Programs Helping Youth and Young Parents Navigate a Pathway to Self-Sufficiency. This publication was developed to support the Young Parents Demonstration project, a U.S. Department of Labor-funded initiative in the early 2010s. The publication includes learnings from the project grantees.

And then to go back a bit in time to 2001 is Leveraging Youth Employment Systems to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy, which presents the results of a nationwide survey of youth employment programs. That survey showed that most youth employment programs view unintended pregnancy and childbearing as significant barriers for program participants to successful program completion and transition to the labor force. The study also reviews some innovative and promising pregnancy prevention programs that have been set up by youth employment programs, including referral arrangements, educational workshops, and counseling sessions.

So, now armed with this heads-up that the workforce development kettle will certainly be simmering again, and presented with some resources for your follow-up, my questions to adolescent sexual and reproductive health providers are:

  • Do you know which agencies and organizations in your community are the primary providers of workforce services to youth and young adults?
  • Do you have relationships with these organizations?  If so, how are you working together?
  • What adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and services could you bring to youth being served through workforce programs?
  • What will you do to become part of the youth workforce policy implementation and service delivery conversation?

Bob Reeg is the Program Development and Public Policy Consultant at Healthy Teen Network.

Austin on Foot… Bats, BBQ, and Boots

shanise_headshot

Shanise Taylor

With its eclectic mix of people, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and year-round gorgeous weather, Austin is the perfect back drop for Healthy Teen Network’s 35th Annual Conference. Having been to Austin previously, I have several tips and recommendations on eating and sightseeing your way through downtown—all within walking distance of the conference site!

Let’s start with the amazing host hotel for this year’s conference, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Austin. Located on the  majestic Lady Bird Lake, it boasts one of the best views in Downtown Austin.  Because Lady Bird Lake has a sprawling 10 mile hike and trail, it’s an always bustling host to many fitness and other recreational activities. Fun Fact: Lady Bird Lake was named in honor of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.  At one time she even turned down the Lake being named after her. Posthumously, Austin’s City Council changed the name to honor the late First Lady’s dedication to beautifying and making the lake’s shoreline a place of recreation.

Need a bit more excitement? The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is the site of one of the best natural spectacles known in the United States. Affectionately known as the “Bat Bridge,” the Congress Avenue Bridge is home to one of world’s largest Mexican Free-Tailed bat colonies. Emerging at dusk to feed themselves, this convergence of bats blankets the shoreline and crosses Lady Bird Lake every evening. It’s a natural wonder when you see how uniformly and quickly the bats move.  There are two ways to experience this phenomenon: you can either stand on the bridge and watch from above as the bridge slightly shakes while the bats move about, or you can experience it from below the bridge to experience a blacking out of the sky.  Either way, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Normally flights happen around 8:00 to 8:30 pm, but for more specific times, call the Bat Hotline (not to be mistaken for aid from Batman) at (512) 416-5700 ext. 3636.

Now that we’ve gotten a little bit of nature (not to mention, free!) activities out of the way, how about some food and entertainment? No matter what your taste buds desire, you can probably find it on, or just off, Congress Avenue. From BBQ to Tex-Mex, downtown Austin has it covered. There are quite a few establishments that boast good food and a cool ambiance, but I’ll highlight just a few.

Hop Doddy: With their delectable choice of craft burgers and beers, Hop Doddy is a great choice for savory bites. Supportive of the local agriculture, this burger lover’s dream provides you with a taste of Texas and, more specifically, Austin!

Iron Works BBQ: Burgers not your thing and looking for some authentic Texas BBQ? Iron Works BBQ may just be the place for you. Eighteen minutes walking (or five minutes by cab) from the hotel, this restaurant boasts a vast array of delicious barbecued meat. If you want to try your own hand at recreating some of their flavors when you get back home, choose from a vast array of spices, sauces, and rubs available for purchase from the store.

Freeb!rds World Burrito: Want to try some local Tex-Mex? This place will tickle your fancy, as well as fill your belly. Within an eight-minute walk from the hotel, Freeb!rds’ menu is a veritable feast of burritos, custom-built tacos, and nachos. With such unique signature items like the Monster Burrito (need you ask?), Death Sauce (“Stop cryin’ like a baby–this ain’t for the weak!” they warn), and  Queso (lots of melted, cheesy goodness… with a little homemade zip), you’re liable to run and not walk to this funky dining establishment. (For the health conscious looking for lighter offerings, they also have a nice selection of salads.)

By now, you should be happily full and singing the sweet praises of Austin’s wonderful dining selection. Are you up to walking off some of that food and look for trinkets and other keepsakes? Why not stop at Texas National Outfitters (TNO)? Located within walking distance of Hop Doddy, this one-stop shop of local flare has you covered. Be it boot-shaped beer cozies to actual one-of-a-kind cowboy boots, TNO has all your Texas needs. Pricing here ranges from reasonable to pricey.

Still wandering and looking for something to do? 6th Street (Sixth Street) is known to be Austin’s Entertainment Center. Nestled between Congress and Interstate Highway 35, this popular destination has something for everyone, from live comedy to karaoke and live music, Sixth Street is easily Austin’s most eclectically diverse entertainment area.  Also conveniently located along this seven street stretch are numerous bars and lounges for those who like to explore the nightlife.

With Healthy Teen Network’s Conference mornings starting very early, I know by now, you’re craving some sleep. But how about some dessert first before you head back up to your room? Stop by Southwest Bistro. Located on the second level of Hyatt Regency Austin’s beautiful atrium view of the skyline, take in the night, have some  coffee, and be sure to order the Roasted Pineapple Cake.  (And if you’re craving a late night snack, the tortilla soup at SWB is also a must try item!)

Looking for other awesomely fun and interesting things to do? Be sure to visit Austin’s helpful website.  It’s chock-full with information to round out your visit! We’d love to hear your recommendations for other things to eat, see, and do in Austin, so feel free to share your favorites in the comment section below.

Hope to see y’all in Austin this October!

Shanise Taylor is the Executive and Communications Coordinator at Healthy Teen Network.

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