Center for the Study of Social Policy - 40 Years of Innovation
Ideas Into Action


Youth Thrive™ Exemplary Initiatives

On January 15, 2014, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) announced the winners of its national search to identify initiatives making a critical difference in the lives of youth who are in foster care or involved with child welfare systems.

Fifteen local, state and national youth and family serving programs that exemplify CSSP’s Youth Thrive™ framework have been recognized. The approach calls for developing five factors in young people (age 11-26) that help mitigate or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being.

The selected programs are:

Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers

To advance its goals, Youth Thrive™ supported the development of a Training of Trainers (TOT) curriculum by the University of Oklahoma OUTREACH National Resource Center for Youth Services (NRCYS) (click here for NRCYS information) and the Academy for Competent Youth Work (click here for Youth Work Academy information). The curriculum presents the Youth Thrive™ protective and promotive factors framework and the research on which it is based in an understandable and useable format. TOT participants become trainers who, in turn, will use this material to train direct service staff and other practitioners, supervisors, program operators and managers.

The Youth Thrive™ training is organized into seven modules and includes:

  • Context and information on current ideas, best practices and trends in adolescent development.
  • Activities that allow participants to experience and explore the use of new concepts.
  • Reflective exercises to think through how to integrate new ideas into existing programs and practices.

For more information of Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers, click on the links below:

What do participants get from the Training of Trainers (TOT)?

Trainers who enroll in the Youth Thrive™ TOT receive the following:

  • Trainer’s Guide – Detailed, step-by-step curriculum guide for each of the seven modules that includes: learning goals, information on content, sequencing, timing, activities, materials needed and general facilitation instructions (168 pages).
  • Participant Manual – Description of key concepts, activity worksheets and resources for participants in future trainings (70 pages).
  • PowerPoint slides for each module (over 200 slides).
  • Bibliography and Resource lists – A wealth of additional information for those who want to explore Youth Thrive™ concepts and research in greater depth.
  • Feedback from Youth Thrive™ trainers – Opportunity to present parts of the curriculum and receive feedback from experienced Youth Thrive™ trainers during the TOT; membership in a community of practice to access additional feedback, virtual coaching and resources via phone contact and/or webinars to share ideas and information and to troubleshoot problems with other Youth Thrive™ trainers.

Who should participate in the Training of Trainers?

The training of trainers is designed for experienced trainers. We recommend participation by individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Major responsibility for leading and delivering training as part of their work assignment for at least 2 years.
  • Proficient in more than one training curriculum or major content area.
  • Values and perspectives that are compatible with the Youth Thrive™ framework. If you are not familiar with this approach, please read more about it here: Youth Thrive™ Information

Because the Youth Thrive™ training curriculum contains a lot of demanding content, we see it as a resource for experienced trainers who have the skills, competencies, commitment and opportunity to provide the training themselves to a significant number of workers and staff. This is not the right opportunity for novice trainers or individuals who are interested in an initial orientation to the Youth Thrive™ framework. An introductory experience is better obtained by reading our materials or watching our video available online at: Youth Thrive™ Video, or by participating in Youth Thrive™ conference presentations or workshops. To get regular updates from CSSP, please like CSSP on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Should youth participate in the Training of Trainers?

We strongly encourage and support the participation of young adults in the Youth Thrive™ TOT, especially those who have had experience in the child welfare or other service systems. Youth voices and perspectives are enormously beneficial to all aspects of Youth Thrive™ work. Ideally, youth who participate should have already engaged in other training, leadership development or advocacy activities (e.g., Youth Advisory Boards, student government, community service) and could partner with a staff trainer to conduct training sessions. Depending on the specific situation, it may also be appropriate for youth, especially young leaders and advocates, to participate in the Youth Thrive™ direct service training.

What are the expectations of Youth Thrive™ trained trainers?

We ask that trainers who participate in the Youth Thrive Training of Trainers agree to the following:

  • Provide Youth Thrive™ training by conducting at least two direct service trainings and reaching approximately 50 individuals who have direct contact with youth over the next two years.
  • Submit basic information and periodic updates to a database on Youth Thrive™ training activities that will be maintained and updated by NRCYS.
  • Participate in occasional conference calls or webinars to share information, strategies and plans and receive virtual coaching for future training with other trainers.

When and where is Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers held?

Through CSSP, there are several ways that Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers is offered:

  1. Open regional training opportunities supported by the Center for the Study of Social Policy conducted by NRCYS or the Academy for Competent Youth Work at various locations. Participants have to cover their own travel, hotel and meal costs, but the training expense is covered by CSSP. Generally, these trainings will be held in conjunction with a local sponsor or at a relevant conference or event in order to help defray costs. There will be approximately four of these TOT held per year. Sign up for the Youth Thrive™ newsletter for information on training opportunities by contacting Francie Zimmerman at:
  2. Jurisdictional trainings specifically for the sites that have been selected to work with CSSP to implement the Youth Thrive™ approach. These training sessions will generally be restricted to trainers within those jurisdictions (e.g., city, county or state). If there are slots available, they will be publicized through our Youth Thrive™ Connection e-newsletter
  3. Contact and contract directly with either the Academy for Competent Youth Work (see Youth Work Academy information) or the NRCYS (see NRCYS information) if you are interested in having them provide a Training of Trainers.

How long is the Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers?

The Training of Trainers (TOT) is an intensive training that typically takes three, consecutive, full days. The TOT includes a full presentation of the Youth Thrive™ framework and guiding premises taught by experienced trainers. The final day of the training allows participants to ‘teach back’ sections of modules, explore using the course materials (Trainer’s Guide, Participant’s Manual, presentation slides, handouts, and resource material), receive feedback from TOT course instructors and participants, and develop a plan for how they will implement the Youth Thrive™ training. 

The TOT can be increased to four days, if needed for a specific group, depending on their level of experience as trainers. For example, more time may be need if participants are not already familiar with some key concepts (e.g., adolescent development, trauma, strength-based approaches, or principles of adult education). 

How long is the Youth Thrive™ Training for Direct Service Workers/Others and how is it structured?

The expectation is that the newly trained trainers will take the curriculum content back to their agencies, organizations and communities to train direct service staff (e.g., caseworkers, supervisors), young leaders and others who work directly with youth and their families. TOT participants are not prepared nor expected to train additional trainers; that is the role and responsibility of Youth Thrive™ and our training partners (NRCYS and the Academy for Competent Youth Work).

The Youth Thrive™ direct service training can be delivered in a variety of formats. Based on CSSP’s pilot testing, we recommend the following:

2-Day Format

This format lends itself to practitioners who are well-grounded in current trends in youth work and have previous training in adolescent brain development and trauma-informed practices. Scheduling is typically two, 8-hour training days held back-to-back. This is the shortest recommended time frame. The experience is content rich and assumes that participants can integrate the five protective and promotive factors into work that already reflects ‘best practices’ relating to self-awareness, self-care, the impact of trauma on adolescent development, assets and strengths-based youth development approaches, relational youth work, and culturally responsive services. The training includes reflective activities that allow participants to think through and plan how they will implement the Youth Thrive™ concepts. 

3-Day Format

This format allows participants increased time to explore the five protective and promotive factors, current ‘best practices’ relating to self-awareness, self-care, the impact of trauma on adolescent development, assets and strengths-based youth development approaches, relational youth work, and culturally responsive services. More time is allowed for discussion, thinking through implications, and reflecting on how to integrate the Youth Thrive™ concepts into current practices. Scheduling is typically three, 6-hour days held back-to-back. This format is recommended for participants who do not have extensive training in trauma informed practices, adolescent brain development or current trends in the youth work field. 

Subdivided Modular Formats

The Youth Thrive™ training is organized into seven modules. Each module can be presented as a stand-alone session or further subdivided into smaller time increments. These can be scheduled on successive days or over a period of weeks as part of on-going staff development. CSSP recommends that when the content is sub-divided, adequate time be included to review previously presented material to help participants inter-connect concepts and bridge content between sessions. This typically means that when the training is subdivided, total presentation time is increased.  

How much does Youth Thrive™ Training of Trainers cost?

The regional trainings and jurisdictional trainings described above will be free of charge in terms of the direct training costs and materials, but participants will have to cover their own travel, lodgings, meals and other costs.                                                                                                                  

Once trained, can newly trained trainers organize and charge others for Youth Thrive™ training?

Yes, we want and expect newly trained trainers to use the curriculum with direct service staff and others who work with and/or support young people. However, newly trained trainers are not responsible for the training of other trainers, which is the responsibility of Youth Thrive™ and our partners. We know that quality training is a valuable resource and can be a significant catalyst for change – the best trainers need to be compensated for their work. It is hard for us to set a standard price that applies to all situations as training costs vary depending on the number of trainers, number of participants, location and cost of facilities, whether food is provided, if travel is involved and so on. We ask that trainers using the Youth Thrive™ curriculum be fair and reasonable in setting prices, recognizing that CSSP invested the upfront costs for the curriculum and materials development.  



Stay Informed

Trainer Forms

Training Report: Provide information about the Youth Thrive™ training you have conducted
Trainer Information Update: Make sure your information is up to date so we can provide you with updates, resources and news about Youth Thrive™

Developmentally Appropriate Freedoms Recommendations

Normalcy” and “developmentally appropriate freedoms” are trending topics for those who work with youth in foster care. To learn more about what these terms mean in action, check out recommendations from our friends at the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board.  The PA YABs are one of the Youth Thrive ™ exemplary initiatives and their materials reflect the priorities and concerns of many youth who have experience in the child welfare system.  

PA Youth Advisory Board: Developmentally Appropriate Freedoms and Normalcy Recommendations Guide

PA Youth Advisory Board: Recommendations Snapshot

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