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Youth Engagement

Youth engagement is a powerful way for child and family-serving organizations to include the young people they serve in moving their work forward. Youth engagement offers the expertise and partnership of young people, helping adults fully understand what it is like to grow up in a rapidly changing world while navigating the various systems and policies impacting the lives of youth each day.

Successful youth engagement strategies provide young people with opportunities to gain work experience, acquire new skills, and to learn responsibility and accountability – all while contributing positively to their communities.[1]  From a political point of view, youth civic engagement is also critically important to preparing young people to be active citizens and is a significant predictor of economic opportunity.[2]

Youth Engagement Graphic

As the Governor’s Office for Children and the Children’s Cabinet explore ways to best address Governor Hogan’s four strategic goals, it is vital that young people are engaged in discussing service improvements, policy decisions, and increasing the availability of quality services. For example, in addressing disconnected youth, research suggests that civic engagement among young people, specifically unpaid volunteering, can reduce by half the likelihood of a youth becoming disconnected.[3]  In addition, Job Corps sites implementing youth engagement strategies, including youth councils, youth decision-making, and youth surveys, produced better employment and education outcomes compared to those that did not.[4]  Finally, civic engagement can help low-income youth build social capital and find meaningful education and career pathways, as well as enhancing a region’s economic resilience.[5]

Maryland provides opportunities for youth voice through a variety of councils and organizations at the State and local level, including but not limited to the:

  • Maryland Youth Advisory Council (coordinated by the Governor’s Office for Children)
  • Maryland Association of Student Councils
  • Maryland Higher Education Commission – Student Advisory Council
  • University System of Maryland Student Council
  • Student Member of the Board of Education
  • Department of Juvenile Services State Advisory Board
  • Department of Human Resources State Youth Advisory Board
  • Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention Youth Council
  • Maryland 4-H State Council
  • Taking Flight Youth Council


[1] National League of Cities (2001). Promoting Youth Participation.
[2] Opportunity Nation (2014). Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities: The Data Behind Civic Engagement and Economic Opportunity.
[3] Opportunity Nation (2014). Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities: The Data Behind Civic Engagement and Economic Opportunity.
[4]  Peter Z. Scholet, “National Job Corps Study: The Short Term Impacts of Job Corps on Participants’ Employment and Related Outcomes.”  U.S. Department of Labor.  February 9, 2000.
[5] National Conference on Citizenship (2012).  Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds.