President-elect Barack Obama received a letter this morning, signed by hundreds of youth-serving organizations and individuals, asking for the creation of a White House Office of Children and Youth.
The letter states that an office devoted to children and youth is necessary if the federal government is ever to have a strategic plan for serving at-risk youth. Currently, federal youth-serving programs are housed at a dozen different agencies, with little coordination among them.
The letter is a product of the Campaign for a White House Office on Children and Youth, which is managed by three Washington-based groups, National Human Services Assembly, First Focus and the Forum for Youth Investment.
Among the organizations that have signed the letter are the Academy for Educational Development, the National Foster Care Coalition, Girl Scouts of the USA and Every Child Matters Educational Fund.
"America needs leadership which transcends silos, believes in youth voices,
and provides a clear vision for success for all federal efforts supporting children and youth," the letter states.
The idea of a White House office was hatched years ago at a meeting of the National Collaboration for Youth, says Natalie Thompson, senior program associate for the National Human Services Assembly. It was the same meeting that produced an early version of the Federal Youth Coordination Act (FYCA), which was designed to connect federal agencies involved in youth programming.
That legislation was signed by President George Bush in October of 2006, but its operations have never been funded by Congress. A new version of FYCA, which legislatively would establish a White House office, was submitted to the House Committee on Education and Labor in September.
A smaller attempt to connect federal youth programs is in development. The Interagency Working Group on Youth, established through executive order by Bush in February, has produced FindYouthInfo.gov, which provides "interactive tools and other resources to help youth-serving organizations and community partnerships," according to the site.
A copy of the letter sent to Obama is available on the website of the campaign.