Knowledge, Skills and Abilities of Youth Service Practitioners

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability
Mary McCain
May 1, 2004
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Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to review the current state
of practice within the workforce development system
in reference to the competencies ? the combined
knowledge, skills, and abilities ? of youth service
practitioners. The paper emphasizes the knowledge,
skills, and abilities required to serve all youth,
including youth with disabilities, effectively.
This paper provides baseline information for the
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for
Youth (NCWD/Youth) to fulfill its overall mission:
To ensure that youth with disabilities are provided
full access to high quality services in integrated
settings in order to maximize their opportunity for
employment and independent living.
It specifically addresses one of three goals of
NCWD/Youth:
To improve the awareness, knowledge, and skills of
individuals responsible for providing direct services
to youth.
The paper looks at how and by whom: 1) required
content is established; 2) training and education based
upon that content are provided; and 3) credentials are
given. Additionally, the paper outlines some possible
action steps to build stronger connections among
organizations and workforce development institutions
to ensure that skilled staff serves youth and employers,
the two ultimate customers of the system.
Background
Today?s youth are not faring well in the labor market.
According to a 2004 report from Northeastern
University, the employment rates of young people
continuously declined between 2000 and 2003, and the
rate for youth age 16 to 19 has reached its lowest point
since World War II. Less educated youth face the most
challenges in gaining employment, with only 35% of
high school dropouts and 55% of high school graduates
employed in a full-time position in 2003, compared to
77% of four-year college graduates (Sum, Khatiwada,
Palma, & Peron, 2004). Meanwhile, nearly one-third of
all public high school students are failing to graduate
(Swanson, 2004).
Youth with disabilities experience particularly poor
education and employment outcomes. According to a
2003 study by the Urban Institute, one-third of youth
with disabilities do not finish high school and only
38.1% are employed (Loprest & Maag, 2003). According
to another study, only 27% of youth with disabilities
are likely to enroll in postsecondary education
(Blackorby & Wagner, 1996).
Joblessness among America?s youth both with and
without disabilities has significant implications for the
US economy. When youth fail to enter the labor
market, the result is reduced labor input, which leads
to reduced production and output of the US economy
(Sum, Khatiwada, Palma, & Peron, 2004). A lack of
work experience in their youth also means that young
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people will be less employable as adults. This will
impact their wages negatively. Youth earnings are
positive for the US economy because they lead to an
increase in consumption among young people, which
raises demand throughout the economy, thereby
increasing the level of employment for other adult
workers. For these reasons, it is important for the US
workforce development system to strengthen its
capacity to provide effective training and preparation
for young people both with and without disabilities to
enable them to enter and succeed in the labor market.
The workforce development system in our country is
large and complex and is comprised of thousands of
organizations with different missions, funding sources,
and histories. NCWD/Youth uses the following
definition to describe the institutions included in the
system:
All national, state, and local level organizations that
plan and allocate resources (both public and
private), provide administrative oversight, and
operate programs in order to assist individuals and
employers in obtaining education, training, job
placement, and job recruitment.
Among the different organizations involved in the
delivery of direct services to consumers (youth) and
customers (employers) of the workforce development
system there is a wide range of youth service
practitioners. NCWD/Youth?s definition of youth
service practitioners includes the following:
Staff who work directly with youth through the
workforce development system, for the purpose of
preparing them for work and the workplace,
including intake workers, case managers, job
developers, job coaches, teachers, trainers, transition
coordinators, counselors (in schools, post-secondary
institutions, or vocational rehabilitation offices, for
example), youth development group leaders, and
independent living specialists.
As can be seen through both definitions, the range of
settings in which youth receive workforce development
service is wide and the responsibilities of the staff
serving youth call for both general and specialized
knowledge. Youth service practitioners are often the
first contact or ?face? of the workforce development
system. They play an important role in connecting all
youth to workforce preparation opportunities and
support. Youth service practitioners must keep pace
with constant changes in the labor market, as the
nation?s economy shifts and new technologies evolve,
and also with the evolving needs and culture of today?s
youth. In order to build and maintain an effective
workforce development system, it is essential to
establish an effective professional development system
for the youth service practitioners who are responsible
for shaping the future workers and leaders of this
nation?s economy. Yet, throughout the field of
workforce development, there seems to be little
professional training available for youth service
practitioners and no formal system for accessing the
training that is available.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was passed in
1998 to create a more effective national workforce
development system. The legislation established a
more comprehensive strategy for youth workforce
development that moves beyond focusing exclusively
on occupation-specific training and places youth
development principles at the heart of services for
youth (US Department of Labor Employment and
Training Administration, 2000). This new strategy
requires comprehensive services and support and
promotes a systematic, consolidated approach geared
towards long-term workforce preparation rather than
short-term narrow interventions. WIA authorizes some
funding for professional development, which enables
the field to strengthen the competencies of the youth
service professionals responsible for delivering WIA
services for youth (US Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration, 1998).
This paper is a first step toward developing a
framework for action to increase the competencies of
youth service practitioners. Competencies are defined
as the combined knowledge, skills, and abilities needed
to perform a specific job or task. The intent of this work
is to build a strong cadre of professional practitioners
who share the same set of competencies and have
access to specialty positions and career ladders.
Approach
NCWD/Youth has designated the National Youth
Employment Coalition (NYEC) as the lead
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organization to support the development of a plan of
action to strengthen professional development
opportunities of youth service practitioners throughout
the workforce development system. This assignment
fits with one of NYEC?s goals, which is to develop and
improve the staff, leadership, and organizational
capacity and effectiveness of youth-serving
organizations to affect youth development through
employment, education, and training. This allows
NCWD/Youth to build upon and inform the work of
this key organization in the youth employment/youth
development field. Additionally, in developing this
background paper, another member of NCWD/Youth,
Goodwill International, was engaged to conduct an
initial review of the available resources that identify
and build the competencies needed by direct service
staff. Goodwill brought to this work well-established
experience with programs that address the needs of
youth with disabilities.
To create a practical and relevant list of competencies,
members of NCWD/Youth examined the current state
of professional requirements, desirable competencies,
and opportunities for professional development for
staff that work directly with youth in the workforce
development arena. A literature review of available
material from the field was completed, including lists
of front line worker competencies, training and
apprenticeships, and organizational requirements in
both workforce development and the disability field. In
total, over 70 different initiatives were examined. A
sampling of relevant initiatives is detailed in Appendix
A and Appendix B. These are initiatives that have
identified core competencies and/or launched some
effort to either train or certify individuals based upon
those competencies. Some of the initiatives are led and
delivered by national organizations, some by
community-based programs, and others by academic
institutions. In order to keep the scope manageable, the
search did not include pre-service education programs
of study in teaching, counseling, or rehabilitation
services. However, there is an appreciation that preservice
education and training form the backbone of
knowledge and skills that many direct service
providers bring to their positions.
While this paper?s focus is on youth service
practitioners, the required knowledge and skills for
working with youth and youth with disabilities are
important to program developers and administrators
as well. The literature search revealed a number of the
recent credentials and certifications in youth workforce
development targeted at program management and
service. Our overview of available resources would be
incomplete if we did not include these programs. Any
system of professional development needs to take into
account the various levels of professionals (e.g. frontline,
management, executive) in the field and provide a
menu of training levels and opportunities to meet the
needs of professionals with different levels of
experience and education.
II. What Youth Need in Preparation for and Transition to Work:
Opportunities, Supports, and Services
Recent research and evaluation of youth
development and employment programs suggests
that the demands of the knowledge economy and the
emerging digital economy are causing employers to
expect higher levels of skills from youth. These changes
require that programs expand the mix of services they
provide by: a) increasing academic rigor and
improving academic performance; b) teaching SCANS
(Secretary?s Commission on Achieving Necessary
Skills) skills; c) shifting from process-focused
evaluations to outcome accountability; d) expanding
the use of effective holistic approaches, such as the
integration of academics, vocational education, and
work-based learning and the use of an array of
technologies; e) involving employers more intensively
in the education system; f) obtaining and applying
better information on the skill requirements of
particular occupations; and g) strengthening the
transition from high school to postsecondary
education, especially for students who have not
traditionally continued their education after high
school (National Collaborative on Workforce and
Disability for Youth, 2002; Goodwill Industries
International, Inc., 2002; Pearson, 2001).
Through a literature review of promising practices
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focused on the needs of youth age 14 to 25,
NCWD/Youth has identified a range of opportunities,
supports, and services that all youth need in order to
meet the higher level of skills discussed above,
including additional opportunities, supports, and
services for youth with disabilities. A set of common
operating principles was developed based upon what
all youth need to transition from adolescence to
productive adulthood and citizenship, including
making informed choices about what career paths they
want to pursue. Youth need all of the following:| access to participation in high quality standardsbased
education regardless of the setting;| preparatory experiences;| work-based experiences;| youth development and youth leadership
opportunities; and| connecting activities to support services.
The following content and service guideposts also
emerged from the literature review. They are presented
based on the needs of all youth followed by the
supplemental needs of youth with disabilities.
Access to Participation in High Quality
Standards-Based Education Regardless of Setting
In order to perform at optimal levels in education, all
youth need the following:| academic programs that are based on clear state standards;| career and technical education programs that are
based on professional and industry standards;| curricular and program options based on universal
design of school, work, and community-based learning
experiences;| learning environments that are small and safe;| supports from highly qualified staff;| access to an assessment system that includes multiple
measures; and| graduation standards that include options.
In addition, youth with disabilities may need the
following:| individual transition plans that drive instruction and
academic support; and| specific and individual learning accommodations.
Preparatory Experiences
In order to make informed choices about careers, all
youth need the following:| career assessment including but not limited to interest
inventories and formal and informal vocational
assessments;| information about career opportunities that provide a
living wage, including information about education,
entry requirements, and income potential;| training in job-seeking skills; and| structured exposure to postsecondary education and
other lifelong learning opportunities.
In addition, youth with disabilities may need the
following:| information about the relationship between appropriate
benefits planning and career choices;| identification of and access to disability-related supports
and accommodations needed for the workplace
and community living; and| instruction and guidance about communicating disability-
related support and accommodation needs to
prospective employers and service providers.
Work-based Experiences
In order to attain career goals, all youth need the
following:| opportunities to engage in a range of work-based
exploration activities such as site visits and job shadowing;
and| multiple on-the-job training experiences, including
community service (paid or unpaid) that is specifically
linked to the content of a program of study.
In addition, youth with disabilities may need the
following:| instruction and guidance about requesting, locating,
and securing appropriate supports and accommodation
needed at the workplace.
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Youth Development and Youth Leadership
Opportunities
In order to reach positive outcomes in a range of
developmental areas, all youth need the following:| mentoring activities designed to establish strong relationships
with adults through formal and informal
settings;| exposure to role models in a variety of contexts;| training in skills such as self-advocacy and conflict
resolution;| exposure to personal leadership and youth development
activities, including community service; and| opportunities to exercise leadership.
In addition, youth with disabilities may need the
following:| exposure to mentors and role models including persons
with and without disabilities; and| training about disability issues and disability culture.
Connecting Activities to Support Services
All youth need access to the following:| mental and physical health services;| transportation;| tutoring;| post-program supports through structured arrangements
in postsecondary institutions and adult service
agencies;| connections to other services and opportunities (e.g.
recreation).
In addition, youth with disabilities may need the
following:| appropriate assistive technologies;| post-program supports such as independent living
centers and other community-based support service
agencies;| personal assistance services, including readers and
interpreters;| benefits-planning counseling regarding the benefits
available and their interrelationships so that individuals
may maximize those benefits in transitioning
from public assistance to self-sufficiency.
Many youth with disabilities have not had the same
opportunities as their peers without disabilities to be
exposed to the necessary career preparation options. In
the past, the career planning process for youth with
disabilities often did not reflect the values of choice and
self-determination. Many youth with disabilities were
relegated to passive roles in their own career planning
process, which often resulted in very few options being
recommended or offered; options that reflected the low
expectations of advisors; options that featured
perceived needs for protection and support; and
options driven primarily by community availability
rather than an individual?s choices. As a result, many
youth have not had the opportunity to pursue career
options that they found motivating and satisfying.
Through online feedback, phone interviews, and faceto-
face meetings, NCWD/Youth has learned that youth
service practitioners want to connect to youth with
disabilities and feel this is a population that should be
connected to the workforce development system;
however, many youth service practitioners also report
that they do not work much with these youth because
they had no training and are ?afraid of doing
something wrong.? The additional opportunities,
supports, and services for youth with disabilities listed
above are not overwhelming; yet, some of them clearly
require specialized training (e.g. benefits planning and
assistive technology). Consequently, all youth service
practitioners need enough information to know when
specialized referrals are in order.
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III. What are the Common Emerging Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
for Youth Service Practitioners?
Areview of a wide range of training and education
programs for youth service practitioners
uncovered the following common approaches and
competencies:
1. As in other professions, most professional development
programs begin with knowledge of the field
and its formal context, such as law, ethics, policy, and
system(s) of delivery. (This is a complex task when
developing professional competencies for youth
service practitioners in the workforce development
system because there are many different contexts ?
within schools (in general curriculum, career and
technical education, or special education), second
chance programs, youth development programs, and
employer sites.)
2. Working with youth requires knowledge of relevant
theory and research concerning their physical, emotional,
social, and cognitive development; peer relations
and sexuality; risk and protective factors; and
principles of adolescent development.
3. Competencies around communication include not
only the methods and purposes of communicating
with and engaging youth, but also awareness of the
young person?s context (including family, culture,
and community), diversity, and potential.
Communication also involves the ability to build
rapport, to act as an appropriate role model, and to
maintain boundaries.
4. Assessment and individual planning help youth
make informed choices. These competencies focus
simultaneously on providing a realistic assessment of
the youth?s knowledge, skills, and abilities and on
helping the young person to recognize his or her
potential and make informed choices about his or
her own future.
5. Employment preparation competencies include
knowledge about local and regional labor markets;
building relationships with employers; an understanding
of skill requirements; knowledge of education
and training providers and other community
resources that support job readiness; and understanding
career development, workplace preparation
and related issues. For those who work with youth,
managing relationships with employers requires an
awareness of the reluctance of many employers to
hire young people, together with an ability to
respond effectively to this concern. Equally, it is
important to provide follow-up support and assistance
to both employer and employee subsequent to
placement.
6. Youth development and leadership skills include
counseling and guidance and the ability to connect
youth to the support services necessary to enable
successful transition into adulthood and the world of
work. Staff should be able to promote empowerment
and self-advocacy, as these skills are especially
important for youth with disabilities.
In part due to the passage of WIA with its renewed
recognition that working with youth is different than
working with dislocated workers and other adults, the
US Department of Labor (DOL) launched the Youth
Development Practitioner Apprenticeship (YDPA)
certification in 2000. The youth worker competencies
developed under this initiative, which are the
foundation of the apprenticeship, are used in this
report as an anchor and for the purpose of comparison.
Table I lists the common emerging competencies
(knowledge, skills, and abilities), using the YDPA
categories as a base. (This table has been updated to
reflect feedback received during three focus groups
with youth service practitioners, managers and
administrators, and a meeting of stakeholders held in
Fall 2003.)
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Competency Area #4: Relationship to Family and Communitiy
Competency Area #3: Assessment and Individualized Planning
Competency Area #1: Knowledge of the Field
Competency Area #2: Communication with Youth| Knowledge of youth development theory, adolescent and human
development| Understanding of youth rights and laws including labor, curfew,
and attendance| Knowledge of self as a youth development worker, including
professional ethics and boundaries, confidentiality, and
professional development needs and opportunities| Understanding of the values and history of the disability field| Understanding of disability laws including 504, ADA, IDEA, and
TWWIIA| Knowledge of key concepts and processes including IEP, IPE,
transition, due process procedures, parents? rights, informed
choice, self determination, universal access, and reasonable
accommodations| Understanding of privacy and confidentiality rights as they
relate to disability disclosure| Respect and caring for all youth, including the ability to be open
minded and nonjudgmental, develop trusting relationships, and
maintain awareness of diversity and youth culture| Ability to recognize and address need for intervention (e.g. drug
or alcohol abuse, domestic abuse or violence, and depression)| Ability to advocate for, motivate, recruit, and engage youth| Knowledge of issues and trends affecting youth with disabilities
(e.g. low expectations, attitudinal or environmental barriers,
need for social integration)| Understanding of disability awareness, sensitivity, and culture| Understanding of how to communicate with youth with various
physical, sensory, psychiatric, and cognitive disabilities| Ability to facilitate person-centered planning, including the
ability to assess goals, interests, past experience, learning styles,
academic skills, assets, independent living skills, and needs (e.g.
transportation, etc)| Ability to involve youth in their own planning process by
helping youth to set realistic goals and action steps, make
informed choices, exercise self-determination, and actively
participate in own development (includes financial/benefits
planning and educational requirements)| Knowledge of various assessment tools and strategies and ability
to administer assessments (or make referrals, as needed)| Ability to track progress and change plans as needed| Ability to ensure appropriate assessment of young peoples?
disabilities (in-house or through referrals, as necessary)| Understanding how to use information from assessments and
records and recognize implications for education and
employment, including any potential need for accommodations
and assistive technology| Ability to assess independent/community living skills and
needs, including accommodations and supports| Understanding of benefits planning, includes Social Security
income and health benefits and their relation to working
Competency Area #4: Relationship to Family and Community| Ability to engage and build relationships with family members
or other significant persons| Ability to connect youth to community institutions, resources,
and supportive adults including mentors and role models| Ability to engage youth in community service and leadership
activities| Ability to involve families, guardians, and advocates (when
appropriate), including connections to disability-specific
resources and groups| Knowledge of family advocacy, support and community
resources, including disability-specific resources and
organizations| Ability to match youth with disabilities with appropriate
mentors and role models with and without disabilities
TABLE 1: SYNTHESIS OF COMPETENCIES FOR YOUTH SERVICE PRACTITIONERS
KSAs Needed to Serve
All Youth Effectively
Additional KSAs Needed to Serve Youth with
Disabilities Effectively
Baseline competencies for all youth service practitioners are listed in the first column. These were synthesized from the work of The John J.
Heldrich Center, the YDPA Program, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), and others. The second
column contains the additional competencies for youth service practitioners working with youth with disabilities. These competencies are a
combination of those suggested by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), the Center for Mental Health Services, the Association
for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and others.
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Competency Area #8: Connection to Resources
Competency Area #7: Relationships with Employers & Between Employer and Employee
Competency Area #5:Workforce Preparation
Competency Area #6: Career Exploration| Ability to facilitate job readiness skill-building and assess
employability strengths/barriers| Ability to teach job search skills, including use of technology and
the Internet| Ability to coach youth, assist in job maintenance, and provide
follow-up support| Ability to match youth with appropriate jobs and careers,
including job analysis and skills standards| Ability to involve employers in preparation process| Ability to conduct job analysis, matching, customizing, and
carving for youth with disabilities, including accommodations,
supports, and modifications| Knowledge of support required to place youth in jobs, including
what employers need to know about reasonable
accommodations, undue burden, assistive technology, funding
streams, and tax incentives| Knowledge of technology and online search skills| Knowledge of tools and processes for career exploration| Ability to engage employers in career exploration| Knowledge of workplace and labor market trends| Knowledge of workplace and labor market trends, including
options for youth with disabilities such as supported
employment, customized employment, or self-employment| Ability to develop relationships with employers| Ability to communicate effectively with employers| Ability to mediate/resolve conflicts| Ability to engage employers in program design and delivery| Ability to train employers in how to work with and support
young people| Customer service skills| Ability to identify, recruit, and provide support to employers
willing to hire youth with disabilities| Ability to advocate for youth with disabilities with employers
including negotiating job design, job customization, and job
carving| Ability to train employers and their staff in how to work with
and support young people, including providing disability
awareness training and information about universal access and
design, reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services
for youth with disabilities| Ability to identify a range of community resources (people,
places, things, & money) that can assist youth| Ability to create relationships and network with other
community agencies and potential partners| Ability to market own program as a valuable resource to
community and a viable partner| Ability to build collaborative relationships and manage
partnerships| Knowledge about different funding streams for youth| Knowledge of community intermediary organizations to assist
with disability-specific supports and resources
TABLE 1: SYNTHESIS OF COMPETENCIES FOR YOUTH SERVICE PRACTITIONERS
KSAs Needed to Serve
All Youth Effectively
Additional KSAs Needed to Serve Youth with
Disabilities Effectively
Baseline competencies for all youth service practitioners are listed in the first column. These were synthesized from the work of The John J.
Heldrich Center, the YDPA Program, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), and others. The second
column contains the additional competencies for youth service practitioners working with youth with disabilities. These competencies are a
combination of those suggested by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), the Center for Mental Health Services, the Association
for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and others.
Competency Area #10: Administrative Skills
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Competency Area #9: Program Design and Delivery| Knowledge of workforce development system, including
technology of workforce development (service management,
performance measures, and assessment)| Ability to work with groups, foster teamwork, and develop
leadership and followership among youth| Ability to manage programs and budgets| Ability to design programs using best practices (considering age,
stage, and cultural appropriateness)| Service management skills, including how to set measurable
goals with tangible outcomes| Ability to evaluate and adjust programs based on outcome
measurement and data| Ability to access resources from special education, vocational
rehabilitation, community rehabilitation programs, disability
income support work incentives, and other disability-specific
programs| Knowledge of universal access and design, reasonable
accommodation, auxiliary aids, and services| Ability to complete referrals and service summaries using
common reporting formats and requirements| Written and verbal communication skills| Time management skills| Strong interpersonal skills/ability to work within a team| Ability to complete disability-specific referrals and service
summaries, such as IEP, transition plan, IPE, and IWP
TABLE 1: SYNTHESIS OF COMPETENCIES FOR YOUTH SERVICE PRACTITIONERS
KSAs Needed to Serve
All Youth Effectively
Additional KSAs Needed to Serve Youth with
Disabilities Effectively
Baseline competencies for all youth service practitioners are listed in the first column. These were synthesized from the work of The John J.
Heldrich Center, the YDPA Program, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), and others. The second
column contains the additional competencies for youth service practitioners working with youth with disabilities. These competencies are a
combination of those suggested by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), the Center for Mental Health Services, the Association
for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and others.
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TABLE 2: COMPARISON OF YOUTH NEEDS AND YOUTH SERVICE PRACTITIONER COMPETENCIES
Youth Needs: Services and Supports Youth Service Practioner Competencies
Table II compares the supports and services that all youth need (identified in Section II) with the competencies as they are currently identified
for youth service practitioners.
Access to participation in
high quality standards-based
education regardless of the setting| Knowledge of the Field| Assessment and Individualized Planning| Connecting to Resources| Program Design and Delivery
Preparatory
experiences| Knowledge of the Field| Communication with Youth| Assessment and Individualized Planning| Career Exploration| Connecting to Resources| Program Design and Delivery
Work-based
experiences| Communication with Youth| Assessment and Individualized Planning| Workforce Preparation| Relationships with Employers and Between Employer and
Employee| Program Design and Delivery
Youth development and
youth leadership
opportunities| Knowledge of the Field| Assessment and Individualized Planning| Relationship to Family and Community| Program Design and Delivery
Connecting activities
to support services| Knowledge of the Field| Communication with Youth| Assessment and Individualized Planning| Relationship to Family and Community| Relationships with Employers and Between
Employer and Employee| Connecting to Resources| Program Design and Delivery
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development system tends to be restricted to
compliance with accommodation requirements
contained in the ADA and centered on physical access
to facilities (National Service Inclusion Project, n. d.;
National Center on Workforce and Disability/Adult; n.
d.; National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability
for Youth, n. d.).
Youth service practitioners need all the competencies
highlighted in Section III, with an emphasis on the
ability to communicate with youth, administer
assessments, facilitate individual planning, and connect
to families and communities. These practitioners also
need a limited, but important, number of additional
competencies to serve youth with disabilities
effectively. Few curricula or materials have been
developed on workforce development competencies
for working with youth in general and even fewer have
been developed for working with youth with
disabilities in this arena. The Council on Rehabilitation
Education Accreditation (CREA) has developed an
extensive and detailed curriculum
and outcomes (competencies) for
working with individuals with
disabilities, with the emphasis
placed on specialty positions
often housed in community
rehabilitation centers. CREA
competencies can inform the
development of a common set of
core competencies that all youth
service practitioners need; for
example, they might help a
worker in a One-Stop Center
know how to organize
community supports for
individuals using the universal
services of a One-Stop. Several
new specialty certifications have
also been developed to assist
practitioners in acquiring
competencies associated with
using technology for people with
disabilities (see ATACP
certification in Section VI).
Many youth with disabilities may need only a few
additional supports to access workforce
development opportunities while others will need
more depending on the severity of the disability. Their
disability may affect how they achieve their goals, and
may require accommodations to enable their success,
but if the staff is already serving youth effectively, they
can serve youth with disabilities as well; this effective
service includes knowing when to ask for help from a
specialist (National Collaborative on Workforce and
Disability for Youth, 2002). As with other youth, an
emphasis should be placed on goals including selfdetermination
? the ability to control one?s own life,
achieve self-defined goals, and participate fully in
society ? and self-advocacy ? taking risks and
developing independence and problem-solving skills.
A 2002 survey of youth with disabilities by the
National Youth Leadership Network (NYLN) identified
18 ?Priority Factors in Building a Successful Life.? All
but five of the priorities are identical to priorities for all
youth (National Youth Leadership Network, 2002).
Of the five disabilities-specific
priorities, most, such as learning
applicable laws and connecting to
community agencies, are
applicable to all youth, but would
probably be expanded or adapted
for youth with disabilities
(National Collaborative on
Workforce and Disability for
Youth, 2002).
There is widespread agreement
that youth with disabilities have
the same developmental needs as
other youth, and the same desires,
expectations, and dreams. There
are a number of sources of
information about working with
individuals with disabilities, but
these do not appear to be
integrated into the common
emerging competencies for youth
practitioners. The disabilityrelated
focus within the workforce
IV. Competencies for Working with Youth with Disabilities
NYLN Survey of Youth with Disabilities:
Priority Factors in Building a Successful Life
1. Learn how to set goals, be assertive,
and self-promote.
2. Have family members who expect
the youth to be a successful adult.
3. Have family?s encouragement and assistance.
4. Learn how to stay healthy.
5. Obtain health insurance.
6. Identify accommodations needed
and how to ask for them.
7. Get reliable transportation in the community.
8. Take the lead in planning education
and future goals in school.
9. Learn about laws like the ADA and IDEA.
10. Get a good doctor who treats adults.
11. Get to know other people with disabilities
in the same age group.
12. Work in paid jobs in the career
area of their choice.
13. Learn about supports for young
people with disabilities.
14. Get work experience during high school.
15. Attend classes with peers who
do not have disabilities.
16. Get involved in community service.
17. Take college or vocational school classes.
18. Get services from Vocational Rehabilitation,
Centers for Independent Living and other
community agencies.
12| Individual transition plans that drive instruction and
academic support| Specific and individual learning accommodations| Identification of and access to disability-related support and
accommodations for workplace and community living| Ability to facilitate person-centered planning, including the
ability to assess goals, interests, past experience, learning
styles, academic skills, assets, independent community
living skills, and needs (e.g. transportation, etc)| Ability to ensure appropriate assessment of young peoples?
disabilities (in-house or through referrals, as necessary)| Understanding how to use information from assessments
and records and recognize implications for education and
employment, including any potential need for
accommodations and assistive technology| Ability to assess independent/community living skills and
needs, including accommodations and supports| Instruction and guidance about communicating disabilityrelated
support and accommodation needs to prospective
employers and service providers| Ability to access resources from special education,
vocational rehabilitation, community rehabilitation
programs, disability income support work incentives, and
other disability-specific programs| Knowledge of universal access and design, reasonable
accommodation, and auxiliary aids and services| Ability to conduct job analysis, matching, customization,
and carving for youth with disabilities, including
accommodations, supports and modifications| Knowledge of support required to place youth in jobs,
including what employers need to know about reasonable
accommodations, undue burden, assistive technology,
funding streams, and tax incentives| Ability to advocate for youth with disabilities with
employers, including negotiating job design, job
customization, and job carving| Ability to train employers and their staff in how to work
with and support young people, including providing
disability awareness training and information about
universal access and design, reasonable accommodations,
and auxiliary aids and services for youth with disabilities| Exposure to mentors and role models including persons
with and without disabilities| Ability to involve families, guardians, and advocates (when
appropriate) including connections to disability-specific
resources and groups| Knowledge of family advocacy, support and community
resources, including disability-specific resources and
organizations| Ability to match youth with disabilities with appropriate
mentors and role models with and without disabilities| Ability to train employers and their staff in how to work
with and support young people, including providing
information about universal access and design, reasonable
accommodations, auxiliary aids and services for youth with
disabilities
TABLE 3: COMPARISON OF THE NEEDS OF YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES
AND YOUTH SERVICE PRACTIONER COMPETENCIES
Needs of Youth with Disabilities Youth Service Practioner Competencies
Table III looks at the additional supports and services that youth with disabilities need (as identified in Section II) and
the youth service practitioner competencies that have already been identified. In the over 70 programs surveyed, few
had specific competencies related to workforce development for youth with disabilities.
13
TABLE 3: COMPARISON OF THE NEEDS OF YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES
AND YOUTH SERVICE PRACTIONER COMPETENCIES
Needs of Youth with Disabilities Youth Service Practioner Competencies| Training about disability issues and disability culture| Understanding of the values and history of the disability
field| Understanding of disability laws including ADA, IDEA,
and TWWIIA| Knowledge of key concepts and processes including IEP,
IPE, transition, due process procedures, parents? rights,
informed choice, self determination, universal access, and
reasonable accommodations| Knowledge of issues and trends affecting youth with
disabilities (e.g. low expectations, attitudinal or
environmental barriers, need for social integration)| Understanding of disability awareness, sensitivity, and
culture| Understanding of how to communicate with youth with
various physical, sensory, psychiatric, and cognitive
disabilities| Post-program supports such as independent living centers
and other community-based support service agencies| Ability to assess independent/community living skills and
needs, including accommodations and supports| Ability to involve families, guardians, and advocates (when
appropriate), including connections to disability-specific
resources and groups| Knowledge of family advocacy, support, and community
resources, including disability-specific resources and
organizations| Information about the relationship between appropriate
benefits planning and career choices| Benefits-planning counseling regarding benefits available
and their interrelationship so that individuals may
maximize those benefits in transitioning from public
assistance to self-sufficiency| Understanding of benefits planning, includes Social Security
income and health benefits and their relation to working| Personal assistance services, including readers, interpreters,
and other services| Ability to ensure appropriate assessment of young peoples?
disabilities (in-house or through referrals, as necessary)| Understanding how to use information from assessments
and records and recognize implications for education and
employment, including any potential need for
accommodations and assistive technology| Knowledge of universal access and design, reasonable
accommodation, auxiliary aids and services
14
What follows is a sampling of some of the largest,
validated, and most pervasive professional
development initiatives, including some led and
delivered by national organizations, community-based
programs, and academic institutions. Some of these
initiatives have outlined core competencies; others offer
training in particular areas (e.g. youth development or
workforce development); still others offer certification
in various specialties (e.g. assistive technology or career
specialist). At this time, however, there is no single
comprehensive system that: 1) outlines core
competencies for working with all youth in the
workforce development field, 2) offers trainings and
courses, and 3) culminates in certification or a degree.
The initiatives below offer promising pieces of what
could someday become such a system. (Appendix A
and Appendix B compare the main elements of some of
the more established initiatives.)
Core Competencies
The Youth Development Practitioner Apprenticeship
(YDPA) was introduced by DOL in 2000; two rounds of
YDPA grants funded through December 2003
supported initial implementation. The YDPA upgrades
the field of youth work by providing one of the most
comprehensive, detailed, and exacting competency
frameworks of any of the better-known programs in
this field. The goals of the YDPA are to:| provide training standards for the Youth
Development Practitioner occupation;| increase the number of youth service practitioners
receiving extensive, quality training;| increase retention for both youth service practitioners
and youth programs;| provide training and mentoring opportunities;| provide a career path; and| provide national recognition for successful completion
of a course of study.
In developing this initiative, DOL?s Office of
Apprenticeship Training, Employment, and Labor
Services (OATELS) and Office of Youth Services (OYS)
asked practitioners in the field of youth development
to identify the skills needed to perform this occupation.
The YDPA competencies encompass the essential
concepts, theories, knowledge, skills, and abilities that
were most commonly cited for successful youth
development work.
The apprenticeship requires a mix of on-the-job
training (OJT) and related academic instruction. The
OJT component is grouped into the ten categories
listed in Table I, for which the apprentice must ?apply?
or ?demonstrate? specific knowledge, skills, and
abilities. The related instruction component consists of
multiple topics divided into three categories: core skills
(28), workforce development skills (16), and
administrative skills (7). The program requires 3,000 to
4,000 hours of OJT and 343 hours of related instruction.
It is expected that two to three years are necessary to
complete the program. There is no academic
prerequisite beyond a high school diploma, and the
program is geared towards preparation for a first job in
the field. Upon successful completion of the program,
the apprentices will be eligible for YDPA Certification.
From the perspective of working with youth with
disabilities, the YDPA?s competencies include ?youth
with special needs? (eight hours of instruction),
?training on assisting people with disabilities? (six
hours), and ?knowledge of the youth legal system?
(five hours). The OJT component does not specifically
reference youth with disabilities.
The YDPA program does not provide or mandate a
particular curriculum for use in training to these
competencies; however, a YDPA clearinghouse website
(www.ydpaclearinghouse.org), managed by the Sar
Levitan Center, is in the process of soliciting exemplary
curricula, training providers, and other resources to
support the apprenticeship. Any organization that
qualifies to offer the YDPA also assumes responsibility
for developing and delivering the appropriate
curriculum. The OJT component has presented some
difficulty, as there is not a large, established cadre of
?journeymen? trainers or mentors qualified in youth
development work. There is an even smaller cadre of
journeymen qualified to address the specific needs of
V. Selected Initiatives Outlining Core Competencies,
Offering Training, and/or Awarding Certifications
15
youth with disabilities. Thirteen national organizations,
funded by DOL, have introduced the YDPA in a variety
of local sites. The resources and experience that these
organizations are developing may help to inform the
development of additional programs.
The Fund for the City of New York?s Youth
Development Institute has developed a detailed set of
?essential competencies necessary to ensure that a high
quality professional service meets the needs of young
people? (Youth Development Institute, 1998). While the
categories here are similar to those of the YDPA, the
primary focus is not workforce development, although
it is included, but rather advocacy, establishing and
using the group process, and recognition of and
response to circumstances that require intervention.
Youth with disabilities are not specifically addressed in
this model.
Competencies that are identified by other organizations,
such as the National Association for Workforce
Development Professionals (NAWDP), are mainly for
program managers or instructors with responsibility
for training workforce development practitioners.
NAWDP lists 12 competencies that a program manager
in the workforce development system must have in
order to be eligible for their credential. Most of these
organizations provide a list of competencies within the
context of certification or recognition credentials.
(Credentials are addressed in more detail later in the
paper.) WIA?s One-Stop Centers website has a
detailed matrix of competencies necessary to run an
effective workforce development program (available
online at www.workforcetools.org). Neither of these lists
of competencies specifically addresses working with
youth or individuals with disabilities.
Education and Training
There does not yet exist a sufficient critical mass of
education and training opportunities for youth service
practitioners. An evaluation of the National Training
Institute for Community Youth Work?s (NTI) B.E.S.T.
Initiative (Building Exemplary Systems for Training
Youth Workers) conducted in 15 cities documented that
youth service practitioners and their programs
benefited in a variety of ways from professional
development. It also revealed that the field of youth
development offers low professional status, a factor in
the relatively low pay and benefits of youth service
practitioners. However, the youth service practitioners
surveyed ?overwhelmingly agreed that courses,
certificates, and degrees increased the professional
status of youth work? (National Training Institute for
Community Youth Work, 2002).
As organizations and governments begin to encourage
professional development and recognition for those
who work with youth and youth with disabilities, the
dearth of qualified or accredited providers of training,
standardized assessment, and certification has become
apparent. There is little training available for youth
workforce development practitioners that is
comprehensive and that leads to a recognized, portable
certification or degree. Training providers and national,
state, and local organizations offer workshops,
conferences, and training sessions periodically, but
these are not consistent and may or may not qualify for
credits towards the existing certifications, such as the
YDPA. As the focus on this profession grows, however,
organizations have begun to develop curricula and
options for training.
As mentioned earlier, DOL funded 13 organizations in
2001 to promote, develop, and assist in implementation
of the YDPA program in a variety of local sites and
organizations, including Partnership for Greater
Philadelphia Federation of Settlements, Goodwill
Industries International, Inc. (Maryland), West Fresno
Schools Foundation (California), and YouthBuild USA
(Massachusetts) (National Clearinghouse for Youth
Development Practitioner Apprenticeship Programs, n.
d.). The information, experience, and resources that
emerge from these initial programs will be of great
value as they will inform the field, expand the range of
resources, and encourage expansion of programs that
offer YDPA and certification.
The Advancing Youth Development (AYD)
curriculum was developed in 1996 by the Center for
Youth Development and Policy Research along with
the National Network for Youth and the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The
training curriculum is administered by NTI. The AYD
curriculum?s seven modules encompass the main
issues for youth workforce development practitioners,
including a set of competencies that are framed in
16
module six. AYD is a 28-hour course in the basics of
youth development and is not intended to provide the
level of competencies of the YDPA or other programs.
The AYD curriculum is one of the first to focus on
youth development practitioners. Under the B.E.S.T.
(Building Exemplary Systems for Training Youth
Workers) Initiative, NTI developed a ?train the trainer?
system whereby local intermediaries now offer the
curriculum to youth service practitioners in their area.
In these local communities, AYD provides an easily
delivered, accessible, and inexpensive option for initial
development for youth service practitioners. The local
B.E.S.T. sites include Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Detroit,
MI; Hampton/Newport News, VA; Indianapolis, IN;
Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City/Midwest B.E.S.T (MO,
NE, KS, IA, IL); Minneapolis, MN; New Haven, CT;
New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pinellas County, FL;
Springfield, MA; and Washington, DC. More
information about these local initiatives may be found
online at www.nti.aed.org/BestSites.html. In 2002, NTI
developed Supervising Youth Development Practice,
an AYD course for supervisors of front-line workers.
NTI has also piloted several YDPA programs as part of
its B.E.S.T. Initiative.
Other organizations that have begun to offer periodic
training that is geared towards youth workforce
development practitioners and that also offers some
credit towards the YDPA include the National
Partnership for Community Leadership (NPCL),
formerly known as the National Center for Strategic
Nonprofit Planning and Community Leadership, and
the John J. Heldrich Center. NPCL?s National Youth
Development Practitioners Institute has been offered
several times each year since 2000, and provides a
maximum of 270 credit hours toward the YDPA
certification.
The John J. Heldrich Center?s Working Ahead:
The National Workforce and Career Development
Curriculum offers different versions for practitioners
who work with adults and youth. The curriculum for
workforce development staff that work with youth is
competency-based, providing the skills necessary to
help youth make informed career decisions, develop
career action plans, implement an effective job search,
and retain a job.
The Working Ahead curriculum does not fully satisfy
all of the components of the YDPA competencies;
however, it has been approved by the Center for
Credentialing and Education as satisfying the
educational requirement of the national Career
Development Facilitator Credential [see Section IV].
The Heldrich Center has established a Working Ahead
instructor registry that lists individuals who
successfully complete the Working Ahead Train-the-
Instructor Program. The registry will enable
organizations that want staff trained in Working
Ahead to identify qualified instructors certified to
teach the program. The registry will also enable
instructors to network with each other as well as
provide the Heldrich Center with updates and
communication.
The New Leaders Academy, a program of the National
Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC), was established
in 1999 to provide a training opportunity for emerging
leaders in the field of youth employment and youth
development. It is a competitive year-long professional
management and training program specifically
designed to equip mid-level youth service
professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary
to successfully manage and lead youth programs. This
program targets professionals with a minimum of five
years experience in the field and is not intended for
front-line staff.
New Leaders participate in two residential training
sessions with a curriculum based on current
information about practice, policy, and research from
the fields of youth employment and youth
development. Among other sources, the program of
study draws on knowledge of what works from the
PEPNet (Promising and Effective Practices Network)
Advancing Youth Development Modules| Introduction to Youth Development Approach| Developmental Youth Outcomes| Cultural Assumptions and Stereotypes about Young People| Strategies for Youth Participation| Opportunities and Supports for Youth Development| Core Competencies for Youth Workers| Review, Practice and Celebration
17
awarded initiatives and broadly covers topics from the
PEPNet criteria: Quality Management, Youth
Development, Workforce Development, and Evidence
of Success. Academy participants also build their
knowledge and skills around self-assessment, goal
setting, workplace competencies for youth
professionals, resource development, communications
skills, policy development, program development,
current trends, and networking. Graduates of the
Academy are eligible to apply for three graduate-level
credits from the University of Colorado at Denver.
In 2001, the Sar Levitan Center at Johns Hopkins
University developed the Youth Practitioner Institute
in collaboration with the Community College of
Baltimore as a professional training system for youth
service practitioners employed with the City of
Baltimore?s Office of Employment Development. The
intensive training component includes 27 modules
(three hours each) and lasts five weeks. The program
provides a mix of interactive classroom sessions with
nine days of carefully supervised and assessed worksite
internships. After the initial training, participants
receive a partial certification as a Youth Practitioner.
Following attendance at monthly special topic
seminars and satisfactory work performance, they
receive full certification after one year on the job.
The University of Illinois at Springfield, College of
Health and Human Services, has offered Workforce
Development Online: Career Specialist Studies since
1998. The program is not specifically focused on youth,
but is designed for professionals who provide labor
market and career search information, workforce
preparation, training, and placement assistance to their
clients and students. The program is endorsed by
NAWDP. The course content is competency-based.
Upon successful completion of the course sequence,
students receive a certificate of completion from the
University of Illinois at Springfield.
There are many other examples of education and
training offered throughout the country by private
sector providers, community colleges, and four-year
colleges and universities. Few of these are youthfocused
and fewer are formal degree programs. None
of the programs reviewed had a disability-specific
session or module.
Training Options in Development
The Wallace-Readers Digest Fund has provided twoyear
grants to organizations focused on training and
support for youth development workers. The outcomes
of these projects are not yet available, but they suggest
promising partnerships for developing the courses of
study and degree programs that will help establish the
youth development workforce profession.| Children, Youth and Family Council Education
Consortium (Philadelphia, PA) is working in partnership
with the Greater Philadelphia Federation of
Settlements to offer basic youth development training
to youth service practitioners across Philadelphia;
provide 70 youth-serving agencies with complementary
training for managers and supervisory staff;
work with the Community College of Philadelphia to
establish an Associate Degree in youth work; and
offer mini-grants to five local youth agencies that will
serve as field placement sites for Associate of Arts
degree candidates.| The Fund for the City of New York has received
funding to institutionalize NTI?s B.E.S.T. Initiative
(see above) by expanding its efforts to include smaller
grassroots organizations; establishing a sustainable
network of youth development practitioner-trainers;
creating a credentialing system for youth service
practitioners in New York City in partnership with
the City University of New York; and building a
broader constituency of parents, teachers, and youth
to support the positive youth development agenda.
Degree Programs with Relevance to
Practitioners in Workforce Development
The American Humanics (AH) program is an interesting
model for developing a professional focus and
certification within a traditional degree-granting
institution. AH provides assistance in developing
appropriate courses of study and curricula for students
in colleges and universities to enable them to achieve the
competencies necessary to become skilled professionals
and leaders in youth and human service agencies.
Students are required to participate in internships of 300
or more hours, be active in co-curricular activities, and
complete 180 contact hours of academic coursework. In
addition, they must complete a major field of study as
required by the university or college to obtain their
baccalaureate degree in a relevant field.
18
The AH nonprofit management program is offered on
more than 85 campuses across the country, and is
associated with 18 national nonprofit partners. AH also
offers professional networking, professional development
seminars, and training for Campus/Executive
Directors (CEDs). More than 3,000 college students
have been certified in nonprofit management by
American Humanics, and more than 2,000 students are
enrolled annually in the AH program. The AH
program can serve as a useful model as the youth
development profession develops, since it provides a
link between competencies, instruction, and academic
credit and degrees.
The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)
accredits graduate programs in Rehabilitation
Counselor Education (RCE) and has developed
detailed outcomes/competencies for graduate
programs. As a result of the Vocational Rehabilitation
Act?s mandate that state VR agency directors
implement and manage a Comprehensive System of
Personnel Development (CSPD), the Council of State
Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation works with
state agencies, CORE, and other organizations to
promote hiring of qualified personnel from COREaccredited
educational institutions.
The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive
Technology Society of North America (RESNA) offers
the Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) and
Assistive Technology Supplier (ATS) certifications.
Requirements for RESNA certifications include ratios of
postsecondary education degrees and practical
experience. Over 20 colleges and universities have
degree programs in Rehabilitation Engineering and
Assistive Technology (see Appendix B).
Other colleges and universities that offer coursework
or degrees related to youth workforce development
include Concordia University (St. Paul, MN) School of
Human Services, Master of Arts in Youth Development;
University of Northern Iowa, Bachelor of Science in
Youth and Human Service; Texas A&M, coursework in
Youth Development Organizations and Services;
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) Heller School for
Social Policy and Management, Master of Business
Administration in Human Services and Master of
Management. These programs are designed for
positions in a range of health and human services
organizations.
Credentials
The following initiatives provide a variety of
credentials for professionals who work either in the
field of workforce development, with youth in the
workforce development system, with youth in general,
or with individuals with disabilities.
The Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF)
credential designates individuals working in a variety
of career development settings, such as career group
facilitator, job search trainer, career resource center
coordinator, career development case manager, intake
interviewer, occupational and labor market information
resource person, or workforce development staff
person. The GCDF credential is managed by the Center
for Credentialing and Education, Inc. (CCE), and rests
on 13 competencies that fall within the categories
identified in Table I.
The GCDF requires 120 hours of instruction. The CCE
approves training providers and the curriculum that
supports the credential. Providers such as the Heldrich
Center, National Career Development Association, and
Workforce Development Professionals Network offer
curricula in a variety of settings and frameworks (e.g.
workshops and summer courses), and may link the
program to other credentials. The Heldrich Center is
developing agreements with various colleges and
community colleges to enable its Working Ahead
instructor curriculum to be eligible for college credit.
NAWDP established the Certified Workforce
Development Professional (CWDP) program in 1999
to recognize the training, experience, and expertise of
professionals who facilitate the process by which
individuals identify, prepare for, obtain, and maintain
employment, careers, and self-sufficiency; and by
which businesses, other employing organizations, and
communities develop, access and retain a workforce
that enables them to maintain and improve their
economic competitiveness. The certification requires a
combination of education and experience, a selfassessment,
and the assessment by two peers of the
individual's competency in 12 areas. As a national
professional association, NAWDP certifies that CWDPs
19
meet national standards for workforce development
professionals. The CWDP program only recognizes
training and expertise ? it does not provide training or
grant credit towards an associate or bachelor degree.
DOL?s announcement of the Youth Development
Practitioner Apprenticeship (YDPA) Program stated
that ?the vision of occupation recognition and
apprenticeship for youth service practitioners is to
maximize our investment in young people, youth
programming and the workforce development system
through quality training opportunities for youth
service practitioners who deliver comprehensive
services to young people? (US Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration, 2000). The
apprenticeship program awards a credential upon
completion.
The Association for Child and Youth Care Practice has
recently proposed a more advanced and rigorous
certification for practitioners in child and youth
development. The Association?s North American
Certification Project (NACP) developed detailed
competencies for Professional Child and Youth Care
Work Personnel. The field focuses on infants, children,
and adolescents, including those with special needs,
?within the context of the family, the community and
the life span? (Association for Child and Youth Care
Practice, Inc, 2002).
The NACP anticipates a multi-level certification, with
the 2001 competencies as the first level. The minimum
requirement to begin this certification process is a
baccalaureate degree from a college or university.
Although the NACP encompasses a far wider field and
focus than preparing youth for work, it offers a number
of important distinctions from the perspective of youth
and youth with disabilities, including an emphasis on
the importance of environment and context and of the
role of the individual in developing his or her own
path.
In the emerging field of assistive technology, several
new specialty certifications describe the competencies
associated with using technology for people with
disabilities. Assistive technology includes, but is not
limited to augmentative and alternative
communication; environmental controls; seating and
positioning; mobility devices; ergonomics; computer
access technology; and technology for people with
learning, physical, cognitive, or sensory disabilities.
The field is fairly new and the tools and applications
change rapidly. Individuals who work in this
profession require specific knowledge and skills, such
as familiarity with universal design, device production,
and assessment and application. The emphasis of these
certifications is on knowledge of the technologies
available; assessments in the context of using
technology to improve education, vocation, and
independent living; and determining appropriate
home, school, and work options and modifications. For
example, the Center on Disabilities at California State
University, Northridge has developed competencies
and curriculum for its Assistive Technology
Applications Certificate Program (ATACP). The ATACP
certification specifies 52 hours of online instruction, 40
hours of live training, and an eight-hour project.
RESNA (see entry above) offers a similar credential,
the Assistive Technology Practitioner, that recognizes
education and work experience in this field.
The initiatives described above can serve as a
foundation for a comprehensive system of professional
training for youth service practitioners working with
all youth in the workforce development field. The
competencies identified in these different initiatives ?
some of which focus on the field of workforce
development, some on youth in the workforce
development system, some on youth in general, and
some on individuals with disabilities ? show overlap
and similar focus and could be combined to create the
framework for a professional development system for
youth service practitioners. There are also several
initiatives that are currently offering training in the
various competency areas. These courses could be
combined or used as a model to create courses that
align with the competencies identified in Table I.
Finally, the last few initiatives mentioned could
constitute the beginning of or model for a certification
or degree-awarding body in the practice of workforce
development for all youth.
20
Much of the work to: 1) identify and develop
competencies; 2) create accompanying education
and training opportunities; and 3) identify some form
of credentialing for youth service practitioners or
program management staff within the workforce
development system is recent. Clearly, there is an array
of specialty education programs, such as for vocational
rehabilitation counselors and assistive technology
specialists. However, we are a long way from fitting all
of the pieces of the puzzle together to meet the needs
of all youth and most certainly youth with disabilities.
Currently, the state of practice requires that an
organization that wants to ensure that its staff members
are competent would have to rely upon combining
competencies from one or more organizations,
curricula from others, and assessments or credentials
from a third. There has to be a more efficient and
effective way.
The encouraging news, based on our review of
competencies for workforce development for youth
and for adults, is that there is little difference among
the general categories identified by the various
initiatives. They do vary significantly, however, in
terms of the level of detail and in what is required for
assessment and certification. At this point, the existing
certifications, credentials, degrees, and licenses all
require different combinations of course work,
experiential components, and assessments. In addition,
existing sets of competencies for youth service
practitioners in workforce development address
requirements for working with youth with disabilities
only superficially, if at all. Competencies for these
youth can be derived from other sources, such as the
Council on Rehabilitation Education, the Service and
Inclusion Project, or advocacy organizations.
Despite the relatively small number of options for
training, recognition, and ongoing support for youth
workforce development practitioners, availability has
expanded in recent years and shows signs of
continuing to grow. While there is no formal training
system for this field, the elements are there that can
serve as a platform. The general agreement concerning
the competencies required for a workforce
development professional is an excellent start. Several
recent initiatives call for exploring
?professionalization? of youth development.
Contemporary youth employment programs are
merging the fields of workforce development and
youth development.
A recent report on youth development policy,
sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,
recommends a series of actions necessary to achieve
professionalization for the field of practitioners in
youth development. These actions constitute
developing a new infrastructure that includes the
following:| licensing, credentials, and a state-by-state system of
accreditation;| basic training in financial controls, organizational
development, human resources, planning and development
to improve programs? chances of affecting
youth outcomes;| in-service training programs that are accessible in
communities where youth practitioners are
employed;| partnerships with higher education to train the next
generation of youth development managers and
direct service practitioners;| marketing and communications campaigns to generate
interest in youth work centers| among young people.
The report also recommends establishing one or more
mechanisms to enable communication and continuing
education for youth service practitioners ? such as
affinity groups, organizational renewal projects, peerto-
peer networks, and information networks and
clearinghouses ? that might come together under an
umbrella association (Ewing Marion Kauffman
Foundation, 2001). The National Training Institute for
Community Youth Work has ?started a conversation?
about a professional association and is soliciting
comments on their web site (National Training Institute
for Community for Youth Work, n. d.).
VI. Conclusion and Next Steps
21
Many of these steps could involve the workforce
development field as well, especially those focused on
training, partnerships, and networks. Integrating
competencies for working with youth with disabilities
into the youth workforce development practitioner
competencies and developing curriculum to support
them is a critical next step. There is an immediate need
for training modules and informational materials for
youth service practitioners. This would probably be the
first and most readily achievable strategy. A second and
more complicated step might be to look at credentials
and certifications for youth service practitioners. The
process of credible assessment and certification
requires agreement about what must be learned and
what must be provided through information,
instruction, experience, mentoring, and peer exchange.
NCWD/Youth has already taken steps to speed the
development of a cost effective and efficient
professional development system for youth service
practitioners employed within the workforce
development system. To date, NCWD/Youth has done
the following:
1. Completed the background paper on the knowledge,
skills, and abilities of youth service practitioners:
Throughout 2003, NCWD/Youth reviewed the current
state of practice within the workforce development
system in reference to the competencies of
youth service practitioners including those required
to serve youth with disabilities effectively. This paper
is a first step toward developing a framework for
action to increase the competencies of youth service
practitioners.
2. Surveyed youth service practitioners and administrators
in the field: In November 2003, the National
Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC) conducted
three focus groups to validate the initial list of competencies
and to identify the resources necessary for
youth service practitioners to gain them. The focus
groups consisted of one roundtable discussion with a
mix of practitioners and program administrators and
two conference calls, one with practitioners and one
with program administrators. Participants on the
conference calls were asked about what their jobs
comprised and what competencies they felt they
needed in order to do those jobs; what training they
were currently accessing and what additional training
they felt to be important; and what type of professional
development would be relevant and useful
for them (including characteristics such as length,
format, and venue). Overall, participants agreed that
the competencies identified by NCWD/Youth are
essential to practitioners? jobs, and that professional
development opportunities to train practitioners in
these competencies are needed. Managers said they
would support the participation of the practitioners
they supervise in training and education in these
competencies if available. They also stressed that
some of the competencies identified as important for
working with youth with disabilities ? such as adolescent
and human development, professional ethics,
person-centered planning, and self-determination
and active participation ? are also relevant to and
should be included under competencies for working
with all youth.
3. Convened stakeholders: On December 5, 2003,
NYEC convened a meeting of key workforce and
youth development organizations involved in training,
credentialing, and certification to review and
discuss current and future strategies for preparing
youth service practitioners to serve all youth, including
youth with disabilities, effectively. Meeting participants
were asked to read and comment on this
background paper and the initial list of competencies
for youth service practitioners. At the meeting, participants
were asked to share their feedback on the
validity of the information gathered thus far and to
discuss next steps for connecting youth service practitioners
to the resources needed to acquire those
competencies. Participants suggested the following
next steps:
1) Establish validated competencies;
2) Identify program partners;
3) Create buy-in and ownership;
4) Create a delivery system; and
5) Conduct education, outreach, and marketing.
Participants in the stakeholders? meeting included
representatives of national nonprofit organizations,
local organizations, and DOL?s Office of Disability
Employment Policy and Office of Apprenticeship
Training, Employer, and Labor Services. All partici-
22
pants expressed interest in continuing to be involved
in the effort and collaborating to make resources
available. This meeting was a first step toward
developing a network of collaborating organizations
to promote the development of an array of front-line
professional development materials based on the
knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the
workforce preparation of all youth and including
materials specifically focused on youth with
disabilities.
The suggestions from the stakeholders? meeting
confirm the steps already taken by NCWD/Youth such
as establishing validated competencies through the
development of the background paper and review by
focus groups and identifying program partners by
convening the stakeholders? meeting. The stakeholders?
suggestions also align well with the following
additional steps that NCWD/Youth plans to take next:
1. Develop, integrate, and test training strategies:
This is a part of creating buy-in and ownership
among others in the field. Training materials are
being developed through an array of organizations
focused on integration of the knowledge, skills, and
abilities required to meet the needs of youth with
disabilities in the workforce development system.
Through the stakeholders? meeting and other efforts,
NCWD/Youth has begun contacting organizations
currently involved in creating training materials and
delivering training for youth service practitioners to
explore strategies for connecting more youth service
practitioners to available resources and training. In
addition, NCWD/Youth has begun to develop training
modules in disability-related basics, assessment,
universal access, and other competency areas for
which there is little training currently available.
These materials need to be incorporated into the programs
identified through the development of this
background paper.
2. Disseminate materials and information through
national networks: Organizations such as NAWDP
and RESNA could serve as vehicles to inform the
training modules and spread the word about the
available materials. As the number of organizations
working in the youth services area grows, their willingness
to discuss good practice and principles,
deliver training and provide certification will help to
strengthen the field. Training on effective practices
and principles in working with youth with disabilities
for youth service practitioners is an important
first step in better connecting youth with disabilities
to the workforce development system. To date,
NCWD/Youth has presented disability training and
the competencies list at several conferences, including
NAWDP?s annual conference, a national YDPA
conference, and NYEC?s PEPNet Institute.
3. Develop a clearinghouse of information: A webbased
system that coherently and comprehensively
links the current array of resources would assist
youth service practitioners in locating professional
development information and opportunities. Such a
system would be grounded in competencies and
would link to the relevant training, professional
development opportunities, and degrees, certifications,
or other credentials that can be obtained.
The many promising initiatives and respected
organizations identified in this paper can serve as
catalysts to move this work forward. When all these
efforts and resources are combined, we will have a
comprehensive system that ensures that all youth
service practitioners have access to the resources for
strengthening competencies needed to connect all
youth, including youth with disabilities, to the
workforce development system. For this vision to
become a reality, all areas of the workforce development
system must be connected and involved.
NCWD/Youth welcomes all persons and organizations
interested in the professional development of youth
service practitioners and expanding programs and
opportunities for all youth to join in this effort. Please
contact NCWD/Youth online at www.ncwd-youth.info
with comments or suggestions.
23
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pdf.
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Waltham, MA: Andrew Hahn.
Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (2002). Strategies
for developing a 21st century youth services initiative.
Bethesda, MD: Goodwill Industries International,
Inc.
Loprest, P. & Maag, E. (2003). The relationship between
early disability onset and education and employment.
Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Retrieved March
2, 2004 from www.dri.uiuc.edu/research/p03-
05c/default.htm.
National Center on Workforce and Disability/Adult.
(2002). Tips for one-stop staff to assist customers in
managing social security disability benefits. Retrieved
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National Center on Workforce and Disability/Adult.
(n. d.). Guidelines. Retrieved March 4, 2004 from
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National Clearinghouse for Youth Development
Practitioner Apprenticeship Programs. (n. d.).
Lessons learned. Baltimore, MD: Sar Levitan Center,
Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved March 4, 2004
from www.ydpaclearinghouse.org/Lessons
Learned.htm.
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for
Youth. (2002). Literature review: Frontline worker.
What?s missing? Retrieved March 4, 2004 from
www.ncwd-youth.info/assets/literature_Reviews/
frontline_worker_summary.pdf.
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for
Youth. (2002). Administrator: Introduction to
workforce development ? Q & A, no 1 & no. 4.
Retrieved March 4, 2004 from www.ncwdyouth.
info/who_Are_You/administrator/workforce_
Development/qanda_01.html.
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for
Youth. (n. d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved
March 4, 2004 from www.ncwd-youth.info/FAQ/
index.html>.
National Service Inclusion Project. (n. d.). Frequently
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from www.serviceandinclusion.org/web.php?
page=etiquette.
National Training Institute for Community Youth
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practice: An evaluation of B.E.S.T. Washington, DC:
Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved
March 4, 2004 from http://nti.aed.org/Impact
Study.html.
National Training Institute for Community for Youth
Work (n. d.). On-line registration form. Washington,
DC: Academy for Educational Development.
Retrieved March 4, 2004 from http://nti.aed.org/
Registration/.
National Youth Leadership Network. (2002). Survey of
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successful life. Report presented at Capital Hill
Forum on ?What youth with disabilities say is
important for building a successful adult life.?
Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum.
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subcats/ydlist.htm.
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Pearson, S. (2001). Preparing youth with disabilities for an
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25
Explanation of Acronyms
504 Section 504, Civil Rights Law, Protects from Discrimination
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
AH American Humanics
APSE Association for Persons in Supported Employment
ATACP Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program
ATP Assistive Technology Practitioner
ATS Assistive Technology Supplier
AYD Advancing Youth Development
B.E.S.T. Building Exemplary Systems for Training Youth Workers
CCE Center for Credentialing and Education, Inc.
CED Campus/Executive Directors
CORE Council on Rehabilitation Education
CREA Council on Rehabilitation Education Accreditation
CSPD Comprehensive System of Personnel Development
CWDP Certified Workforce Development Professional
DOL Department of Labor
GCDF Global Career Development Facilitator
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP Individualized Education Plan
IPE Individualized Plan for Employment
IWP Individual Work Plan
NACP North American Certification Project
NAWDP National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
NCWD/Youth National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth
NPCL National Partnership for Community Leadership
NTI National Training Institute for Community Youth Work
NYEC National Youth Employment Coalition
NYLN National Youth Leadership Network
OATELS Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employment, and Labor Services
OJT On-the-job training
OYS Office of Youth Services
PEPNet Promising and Effective Practices Network
RCE Rehabilitation Counselor Education
RESNA Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
SCANS Secretary?s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills
TWWIIA Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999
VR Vocational Rehabilitation
WIA Workforce Investment Act
YDPA Youth Development Practitioner Apprenticeship
26
APPENDIX A ? MATRIX OF COMPETENCIES FOR PRACTITIONERS SERVING YOUTH
as defined by national certification programs
John J. Heldrich Center:
Working Ahead
Center for Credentialing
and Education
National Association of
Workforce Development
Professionals
Youth Development
Practitioner Apprenticeship
Academy for Educational
Development: National
Training Institute for
Community Youth Work
Fund for the City of New
York:
Youth Development
Institute
American Humanics
Global Career
Development Facilitator
(GCDF)
Global Career
Development Facilitator
Certified Workforce
Development Professional
YDPA Certification Advancing Youth
Development (AYD)
Curriculum
Core Competencies for
Youth Work
Foundation and
Professional Development
Competencies
Helping Skills
Labor Market
Information and
Resources
Assessment
Diverse Populations
Ethical and Legal Issues
Career Development
Models
Employability Skills
Training Peers and
Clients
Program Management
and Implementation
Promotion and Public
Relations
Technology
Consultation
Helping Skills
Labor Market
Information and
Resources
Working with Diverse
Populations
Technology and Career
Development
Ethical and Legal Issues
Employability Skills
Consultation and
Supervision
Training Clients and
Peers
Career Development
Theories and Models
Program
Management and
Implementation
Assessment
Promotion and Public
Relations
12 Competency Areas:
1. History and Structure
of the Workforce
Development System
2. Career Development
Process
3. Labor Market
Information (LMI)
4. Diversity
5. Customer Service
6. Program Management
7. Interpersonal Relations
8. Technology
9. General ?Helping?
Skills
10. Job-Search Skills
11. Job-Keeping Skills
12. Job-Preparation Skills
OJT Outline:
Communicate
Professional Knowledge
Communicate with Youth
Directly and Through the
Expression of Attitude
Assessment and
Individual Planning
Program Design and
Delivery
Relationship to
Community
Administrative Skills
Workforce Preparation
Career Exploration
Employee Relations
Resource Development
Related Instruction
Core Skills
Workforce Development
Skills
Administrative Skills
1) Youth Development
Workers as Supports for
Youth, Families and
Colleagues| Demonstrate awareness of
self as a Youth Development
Worker| Demonstrate caring for
youth and families| Demonstrate respect for
diversity and differences
among youth, families and
communities
2) Youth Development
Workers as Resources to
Youth| Demonstrate understanding
of youth development and
of specific youth| Demonstrate capacity to
sustain relations that facilitate
youth empowerment| Demonstrate capacity to
develop group cohesion
and collaborative participation
3) Youth development
Workers as Resources to
Organizations| Demonstrate capacity to
plan and implement events
consistent with needs of
youth and in context of
available resources| Demonstrate capacity to
be a colleague to staff
and volunteers in the
organization
4) Youth Workers as
Resources to Communities| Demonstrate capacity to
work with community
leaders, groups and citizens
on behalf of youth| Demonstrate capacity to
collaborate with other
community agencies
and youth-serving
organizations
Program Development
Knowledge of Youth
Development Framework
Communication
Ability to Develop and
Maintain a Relationship
of Trust With Young
People
Implementation
Advocacy and
Networking
Assessment
Ability to Reflect on
One?s Practice and
Performance
Community & Family
Engagement
Intervention
Foundation
Competencies| Career Development
and Exploration| Communication Skills| Employability Skills| Personal Attributes| Historical and
Philosophical
Foundations| Youth and Adult
Development
Professional
Development
Competencies| Board and Committee
Development| Fundraising Principles
and Practices| Human Resource
Development and
Supervision| General Nonprofit
Management| Nonprofit Accounting
and Financial
Management| Nonprofit Marketing| Nonprofit Program
Planning| Nonprofit Risk
Management| Personal Attributes| Historical and
Philosophical
Foundations| Youth and Adult
Development

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