different populations are affected by different program components and features (e.g., age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, community environment, developmental readiness, personality, sexual orientation, skill levels). It should also focus on how to incorporate these features into community programs and on how to maintain them once they are in place. Finally, such research should identify program strategies, resource needs, and approaches to staff training and retention that can cultivate and support the features of positive developmental settings in community programs for youth.

  • In the committee’s judgment, current evidence supports the replication of a few specific integrated programs for positive youth development: the Teen Outreach Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Quantum Opportunities are three prime examples.

Very few integrated programs have received the kind of comprehensive experimental evaluation necessary to make a firm recommendation about replicating the program in its entirety across the country. However, there is sufficient evidence from a variety of sources to make recommendations about some fundamental principles of supportive developmental settings and some specific aspects of programs that can be used to design community programs for youth. These are captured by the features of supportive settings outlined in Table ES-1.

Recommendation 5—Federal agencies that fund research on adolescent health, development, and well-being, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education, should build into their portfolios new or more comprehensive longitudinal and experimental research on the personal and social assets needed to promote the healthy development and well-being of adolescents and to promote the successful transition from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.

Recommendation 6—Public and private funders should support research on whether the features of positive developmental settings identified in this report are the most important features of community programs for youth. This research should encourage program design and implementation that meets the diverse needs of an increasingly heterogeneous population of youth.

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