Youth Guided Care

Within many traditional systems that serve youth and families, youth voice is limited. Youth guided care’s goal is to increase youth voice within the systems that serve youth and their families. Youth can become involved in their system of care through participating in youth leadership initiatives such as LIFT’s RiseUP! youth group. When adults view youth as partners, positive youth development is truly achievable!

What does it mean to be “youth-guided”?

According to Youth 'Motivating Others through Voices of Experience’ MOVE National…

Youth Guided means that young people have the right to be empowered, educated, and given a decision making role in the care of their own lives as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all youth in the community, state and nation. This includes giving young people a sustainable voice and then listening to that voice. Youth guided organizations create safe environments that enable young people to gain self sustainability in accordance with the cultures and beliefs with which they identify. Further, a youth guided approach recognizes that there is a continuum of power that should be shared with young people based on their understanding and maturity in a strength-based change process. Youth guided organizations recognize that this process should be fun and worthwhile.

When youth are “empowered” they gain control over their own lives. Empowerment is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, community, and society by acting on issues they define as important.
How can your organization become more youth-guided? Many communities have broken ground by fostering partnerships among youth and adults in the development of clinical interventions, individualized care planning, service delivery model design, social marketing, evaluation, governance, training and workforce development, and many other ways. (Reid, 2011) Long Island Families Together is committed to cultivating such partnerships within the Long Island community.

Youth and child-serving agencies can seek out information about policies and supports in all areas of living, obstacles to success, and strategies for young people to achieve their goals. Has your agency sought out youth advocates or other resources to bridge the gap between youth culture to adult family members? Use the below checklist to determine if your agency is meeting the needs of youth through youth-guided principles:
Sources: Reid, R. (2011). Integrating “Youth Guided” and “Cultural and Linguistic Competence” Values Into Systems of Care. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health. Available at


  • Are youth able to discuss their condition with significant people in their lives?
  • Can youth articulate her/his mental health and other needs?
  • Do youth know how to access health/mental health information?
  • Do youth know how to access community resources and agencies?
  • Do youth understand when to discuss their condition?
  • Can the youth advocate for themselves?
  • Source: Holmbeck et al, 2010