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Rolling Out a New Framework for Serving Youth in Vermont

September 20, 2016

Our goal at VCRHYP is to ensure that adolescent aged youth in Vermont have access to the supports and resources they need to for healthy development and wellbeing.  When we envision creating a statewide safety-net, we don’t just mean what is available through our member agencies; VCRHYP is also working to support and align services with our community and state partners so that no matter what door a young person might enter, they can expect the same quality responses informed by best practice adolescent development work.    

This past spring, VCRHYP, in partnership with the Department for Children and Families, the Vermont Youth Development Program and Washington County Youth Service Bureau, became the recipient of a Technical Assistance award from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to be a demonstration site for implementing the Youth Thrive framework across the state. 

Youth Thrive is a research-informed model that combines the most current science about adolescent brain development, trauma, resilience, and the importance of social connections into one framework (see image) to ensure young people in our care thrive as evidenced by:

  • physical and emotional health,
  • success in school and workplace,
  • ability to form and sustain caring, committed relationships,
  • hopefulness and optimism,
  • compassion and curiosity, and
  • service to community, school or society.

Youth Thrive practitioners work with youth to accomplish these goals through building protective and promotive factors. In Vermont, we are working to build the skills and knowledge of youth care workers across the state to be able to do this.  Our first line of adopters are professionals working with youth in crisis who have been involved with the Department for Children and Families or the Juvenile Justice system, or youth in crisis or at high risk. 


Youth Thrive is more than just a training to frontline youth care workers though. Through implementation, we build on seven key levers of change:

  • Leadership and Governance;
  • Programs and Service Array;
  • Contracting ad Licensing Procedures;
  • Training and Supervision;
  • Policy and Practice;
  • Systems for Data Collection and Quality Improvement; and
  • Agency Culture and Approaches for Youth Engagement.




Over the next several years the Youth Thrive team will be working on a multifaceted plan to address these levers with four key goals: 

  1. Create a statewide, unified framework for youth care across state response systems.
  2. Create opportunities for ongoing training for youth care workers using the Youth Thrive curriculum, moving beyond the “one and done” framework for training roll-out.
  3. Create and support regional Youth Thrive Communities of Practice, where agencies and individuals providing support in local AHS districts can align and enhance their work together, improving the systems response to youth in need.
  4.  Institutionalize Youth Thrive through ensuring that state contracts and policies and practices reflect the values of Youth Thrive including:
    • outcomes informed by Youth Thrive principles;
    • trauma informed care and cultural competency;
    • service expectations that are sensitive to best practice ideas regarding authentic youth involvement; and 
    • promotion and acknowledgement of best practices when responding to adolescents in need. 

We are very excited to be on the leading edge of this work.  While still in the initial establishing and growing phase, we expect you will be hearing a lot more about this initiative over the next year.  This October, we will hold the first Train the Trainer and the first round of more than 20 individuals will be resourced and supported in rolling out the initiative regionally.   We will continue to post about our progress and Vermont Youth Thrive opportunities here, stay tuned!