Youth on the Agenda in Congress

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Youth issues are a hot topic in Congress, but whether that leads to legislative progress remains to be seen.

After several youth-related congressional hearings this summer, some youth advocates believe Congress is taking a thoughtful look at delinquency prevention, youth homelessness and youth work.

“We’re starting to see some really great traction on these issues on the Hill, in both the House and the Senate and on both sides of the aisle,” said Renée K. Carl, director of policy and government relations with the National Human Services Assembly.

“They’re trying to take a more evidence-based approach to public policy issues related to youth,” said Miriam Rollin, vice president of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a group of law enforcement and victims’ rights leaders.

However, the sheer volume of work that lawmakers face could put many youth-related items on ice until winter, or beyond.

There have also been some early disappointments, such as proposed cuts in service learning. And “it doesn’t look like we’re going to get [the $1 million] appropriations” for the Federal Youth Coordination Act, said Thaddeus Ferber, program director with the Forum for Youth Investment. That means there won’t be “a central coordinated body for youth policy.”

So despite the “pockets of positive things” happening on some youth issues, he said, there isn’t “an overarching youth agenda” in Washington.

Here’s a rundown of key youth-related legislation: