Multnomah County, OR Promoting Youth Engagement Strategies
Status: Adopted on 5/22/07
RESOLUTION NO. 07-102
Affirming "Our Bill of Rights: Children and Youth" and Promoting Youth Engagement Strategies for Multnomah County
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Finds:
a. The well being of children and youth is an important indicator of the health of the community.
b. Children and youth deserve basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, medical resources, a well-rounded education, and opportunities for recreation. They also must receive support, encouragement and respect from adults.
c. Multnomah County provides many services which directly impact the lives of young people including after-school programs, school-based health clinics, and mental health care, juvenile justice and homeless youth services.
d. 147,250 children and youth in our community under age 18, who account for 22% of our population (2000, Census Bureau), do not have voting powers and thus are often denied the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives.
e. Only 23% of young people feel wanted and needed in their community (CCFC Time for Success Youth Asset Survey, 1997).
f. Only 37% of American adults believe today's children, once grown, will make the world a better place, http://www.ysa.org/nysd/statistics.html.
g. 90% of students believe the interaction of public officials with young people builds civic engagement (citation from US Mayor’s Conference website).
h. The Bill is the first of its kind in the Nation written by and for children and youth and adopted by a City government (City of Portland, August 16, 2006) and now County government, and thus gives Multnomah County the opportunity to serve as an outstanding model of innovation in the development of youth-friendly policies and procedures using a youth-created planning tool as guidelines for policy and program development and review.
i. Almost 500 children and youth were directly engaged in this initiative through writing the bill of rights, participating on the Committee for the Rights of Children and Youth, and ratifying the Bill at the Convention on the Rights of Children and Youth, and thousands of children and youth provided the Committee with their feedback, ideas, and what they envisioned their rights as.
j. Multnomah County’s Commission on Children, Families, and Community established a Youth Advisory Board in 1996 to “help provide a voice for youth.” In 2002, the Youth Advisory Board voted to change its name to the Multnomah Youth Commission and work to engage young people in policy-level discussions and programs. The Multnomah Youth Commission currently represents a large and broad sample of the County’s diverse youth population. It is composed of young people ages 13-21 from middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout Multnomah County.
k. Young people who are not old enough to vote have no formal way to contribute their opinions to civic dialogue. The Multnomah Youth Commission promotes positive youth involvement in County government through a variety of youth-led projects and efforts. The Multnomah Youth Commission has been instrumental in identifying the concerns and needs of the children and youth in Multnomah County, as well as meeting with various Board members to collect valuable information relevant to policy advisement.
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Resolves:
1. To affirm "Our Bill of Rights, Children & Youth" attached as Exhibit A; considering that the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regards the well- being of children and youth to be of primary concern and importance to Multnomah County, and considering that the BCC recognizes that children and youth are our future leaders and thus that their welfare is crucial and their inclusion in the political process vital.
2. To refer to the Bill as a resource and as a tool to identify and evaluate additional mechanisms to support children and youth.
3. To involve children and youth in decision-making and other review processes and to take the views of children and youth into consideration when making decisions, and promote this involvement throughout the other departments and agencies in the county.
4. To charge the Commission on Children, Families & Community and the Multnomah Youth Commission with producing a report, by December 2007, on the current state of youth engagement efforts throughout Multnomah County government, and recommend practices that will provide increasing opportunities for youth to engage with and serve the County (especially in the County budget process).
5. That this Resolution is non-binding county policy.