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- Definition: Estimated percentage of teens ages 16-19 who are not enrolled in school (full- or part-time) and not working (full- or part-time). Teens who are not working include those who are looking for work and those who are not in the labor force.
- Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. Accessed at: http://factfinder2.census.gov (Oct. 2013).
- Footnote: Data are displayed for geographies with at least 65,000 people based on 2012 population estimates. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to estimates that have been suppressed because the margin of error was greater than 5 percentage points. These estimates are based on a survey of the population and are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. The estimates here differ from the estimates of "idle" youth on the American Community Survey website because the Census Bureau's estimate does not include youth who are looking for work.
- Disconnected Youth
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
- Alcohol Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use (Lifetime), by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use (on School Property in Past Month), by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use (How Much Students Report Drinking), by Grade Level
- Binge Drinking in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Drinking and Driving or Riding with a Driver Who Had Been Drinking, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use (Lifetime), by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use (on School Property in Past Month), by Grade Level
- Inhalant Use (Lifetime), by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use (Lifetime), by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use (on School Property in Past Month), by Grade Level
- Marijuana or Other Drug Use (How High Students Report Getting), by Grade Level
- Recreational Use of Prescription Drugs (Lifetime), by Grade Level
- Alcohol or Other Drug Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol or Other Drug Use (on School Property in the Past Month), by Grade Level
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Any Reason For Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Any Bias-Related Reason For Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Family Income and Poverty
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (State & U.S. Only)
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Median Family Income (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Median Family Income (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More)
- Median Family Income (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Self-Sufficiency Standard, by Household Type
- Families Living Below the Self-Sufficiency Standard
- CalWORKs Recipients
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community, by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community, by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community, by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets, by Grade Level
- High School Graduation
- Foster Care
- First Entries into Foster Care
- Number of Children in Foster Care
- Length of Time from Foster Care to Adoption, by Length of Time to Adoption
- Median Number of Months in Foster Care
- Placement Distances from Home
- Placement Stability, by Number of Placements
- Re-entries into Foster Care
- Exit Status After One Year in Foster Care
- Exit Status After Four Years in Foster Care
- Math Proficiency
- Emotional Health
- Gang Involvement
- Juvenile Arrests
- Reading Proficiency
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety, by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School, by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School, by Grade Level
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School, by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others, by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School, by Grade Level
- Total School Assets, by Grade Level
- School Connectedness, by Grade Level
- Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions
- Teen Births
- Why This Topic Is Important
Sometimes referred to as “disconnected youth,” older teens who are neither in school nor working are more likely than other youth to struggle with mental illness or substance abuse, encounter violence, and become teen parents (1). Further, disconnected male youth are more likely to engage in illegal behavior, and female youth are more likely to become dependent on public aid (2). Because engagement in school or the workforce is critical to the transition from adolescence to adulthood, detachment from those settings—especially detachment that spans several years—can impede development toward productive, self-sufficient adult lives (3). Education and workforce detachment can have long-term negative effects on employability and earning potential (1, 3). The effects also can extend beyond the individual; one study estimates that in 2011, youth disconnection cost U.S. taxpayers $93 billion in lost tax revenues and increased social service costs (5).
Family poverty and parental unemployment are among the key factors that place teens at higher risk for becoming disengaged from education and work (1). Nationwide, American Indian, African American/Black, and Latino youth are more likely than their white or Asian peers to be disconnected from school and employment (4). Other particularly vulnerable youth include those in the juvenile justice, foster care, and special education systems (1).For more information on disconnected youth, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Hair, E. C., et al. (2009). Youth who are “disconnected” and those who then reconnect: Assessing the influence of family, programs, peers and communities. (Child Trends Research Brief No. 2009-37). Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=youth-who-are-disconnected-and-those-who-then-reconnect-assessing-the-influence-of-family-programs-peers-and-communities-3
2. Child Trends. (2012). Youth neither enrolled in school nor working. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=youth-neither-enrolled-in-school-nor-working
3. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2012). America’s children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2012. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/edu.asp
4. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2012). The 2012 KIDS COUNT data book. Retrieved from: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/databook/Default.aspx
5. Bridgeland, H. & Milano, J. (2012). Opportunity road: The promise and challenge of America’s forgotten youth. Civic Enterprises & America’s Promise Alliance. Retrieved from: http://www.americaspromise.org/News-and-Events/News-and-Features/2012-News/January/~/media/Files/Resources/CE_opportunity_road_2012.ashx
- Measures of Disconnected Youth on Kidsdata.org
This indicator reports the percentage of youth ages 16-19 who are not enrolled in school (full- or part-time) and not employed (full- or part-time). Unemployed youth includes both those who are unemployed but looking for work and those who are unemployed but not looking for work.
This indicator is derived from the American Community Survey (ACS). However, the estimates presented here differ from the estimates of "idle" youth on the ACS website because ACS does not include youth who are unemployed but looking for work.
Data are available for: counties with 65,000+ residents, as single-year estimates; counties with 20,000+ residents, as 3-year estimates; school districts and counties with 10,000+ residents, as 5-year estimates; and legislative districts, as 5-year estimates.
- How Children Are Faring
According to 2012 estimates, 8% of youth ages 16 to 19 in California were neither in school nor working. The percentage of youth in California who were disconnected has fluctuated between 2007 and 2012, but is down overall (per single year estimates). Among counties with available data, more than half showed decreases in the percentage of disconnected youth between 2007 and 2012. County-level percentages of teens not in school and not working ranged from 4% to 12%, among counties with 65,000 residents or more in 2012.
- Policy Implications
With growing numbers of youth and young adults neither working nor in school in recent years, there has been an increased focus on the policy issues surrounding youth disconnection (4, 6). In the long-term, if these youth are not re-engaged they will struggle to find employment and will earn lower incomes (2, 4, 5). For society at large, youth disconnection contributes to significant costs related to having an uneducated and unskilled workforce, increased crime and incarceration, and a greater need for public assistance (2, 4, 5).
Policy solutions range from those that prevent youth from becoming disconnected in the first place to programs and practices that re-engage disconnected youth in school, work, and society. According to research and subject experts, policies that could prevent and reduce youth disconnection include:
- Ensuring that struggling students graduate from high school by promoting access to school counselors and youth mentors, and supporting drop-out prevention programs and flexible learning environments that allow students to attain credits through non-traditional paths (1, 2, 3).
- Strengthening GED programs to ensure that youth successfully transition to higher education or employment (1, 2, 6).
- Supporting high school, community college, and community-based Career Pathways, Linked Learning, and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that link youth to internships, apprenticeships, life skills classes, and job placement (1, 2, 3, 4, 6).
- Expanding employment opportunities for youth by implementing mechanisms that provide incentives to employers to hire and train disconnected youth, such as the Disconnected Youth Opportunity Tax Credit, while allowing them to receive high school or GED credits (3, 4, 7).
- Ensuring that taxpayer-funded local employment services, including local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), provide targeted job training and employment opportunities for youth and young adults facing the most barriers to employment (3, 5).
- Supporting cross-sector community collaborations that implement integrated approaches to at-risk and disconnected youth (1, 3, 5, 6). For example, the California Connected by 25 Initiative developed multi-agency, community partnerships to improve education, housing, and employment outcomes for young adults exiting foster care (6).
- Promoting collaborative use of data across agencies to identify disconnected youth, better share information, track services provided, evaluate outcomes, and hold decision-makers accountable (3, 4, 5, 6, 8). For example, the Strive Partnership in Cincinnati decreased drop-out rates and increased college enrollment for at-risk youth through such a data-based effort (8).
- Increasing the flexibility of funding streams and revising eligibility requirements of government programs so that disconnected youth can more easily access employment training, health and mental health services, and other support (1, 3).
- Encouraging youth engagement and youth development programs, such as youth advisory councils and forums, that allow youth to become active decision-makers in their own lives, take on leadership roles, and contribute to the community (3, 4, 6).
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit American Youth Policy Forum, Campaign for Youth, and White House Council for Community Solutions. Also see Policy Implications under the following topics on kidsdata.org: High School Dropouts; Unemployment; Truancy, Suspensions, and Expulsions; Juvenile Arrests; and Foster Care.
Sources for this narrative:
1. American Youth Policy Forum. (2011). Key considerations for serving disconnected youth. Retrieved from: http://www.aypf.org/publications/documents/DY%20Paper%207.19.11.pdf
2. Belfield, C. B., et al. (2012). The economic value of opportunity youth. (Civic Enterprises). Retrieved from: http://www.civicenterprises.net/MediaLibrary/Docs/econ_value_opportunity_youth.pdf
3. Bridgeland, H., & Milano, J. (2012). Opportunity road: The promise and challenge of America’s forgotten youth. Civic Enterprises & America’s Promise Alliance. Retrieved from: http://www.americaspromise.org/News-and-Events/News-and-Features/2012-News/January/~/media/Files/Resources/CE_opportunity_road_2012.ashx
4. Burd-Sharps, S. & Lewis, K. (2012). One in seven: Ranking youth disconnection in the 25 largest metro areas. Measure of America. Retrieved from: http://www.measureofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/MOA-One_in_Seven09-14.pdf
5. Hair, E. C., et al. (2009). Youth who are “disconnected” and those who then reconnect: Assessing the influence of family, programs, peers and communities. Child Trends. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=youth-who-are-disconnected-and-those-who-then-reconnect-assessing-the-influence-of-family-programs-peers-and-communities-3
6. Stuart Foundation. (2011). Promising strategies from the California Connected by 25 initiative: Tips and resources to improve outcomes for transition age foster youth. Retrieved from: http://18.104.22.168/Files/CC25I_PromisingStrategies.pdf
7. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2012). Youth and work: Restoring teen and young adult connections to opportunity. Retrieved from: http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid=%7B3213DA55-8216-4065-B408-D7A521CDD990%7D
8. White House Council for Community Solutions. (2012). Final report: Community solutions for opportunity youth. Retrieved from: http://www.serve.gov/new-images/council/pdf/12_0604whccs_finalreport.pdf
- Websites with Related Information
- American Youth Policy Forum
- America's Promise Alliance
- California Dropout Research Project, UC Santa Barbara
- Campaign for Youth
- Child Trends: Youth Development
- Child Trends: Youth Neither Enrolled in School Nor Working
- National Center for School Engagement
- Pathways to Reconnection Program, CLASP
- School Connectedness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The White House Council for Community Solutions
- WestEd: Healthy Kids, Schools, and Communities
- Youth Transitions Funders Group (YTFG)
- Key Reports
- Connected by 25: Effective Policy Solutions for Vulnerable Youth, Youth Transition Funders Group
- Final Report: Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth, White House Council for Community Solutions
- Healthy Youth Development: Science and Strategies, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
- Key Considerations for Serving Disconnected Youth, American Youth Policy Forum
- One in Seven: Ranking Youth Disconnection in the 25 Largest Metro Areas, Measure of America
- Opportunity Road: The Promise and Challenge of America’s Forgotten Youth, Civic Enterprises & America’s Promise Alliance
- Promising Strategies from the California Connected by 25 Initiative: Tips and Resources to Improve Outcomes for Transition Age Foster Youth, Stuart Foundation
- School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth, Department of Health and Human Services
- The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, Civic Enterprises
- Transition to Adulthood, The Future of Children (20)1
- What Works for Older Youth During the Transition to Adulthood: Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions, Child Trends
- Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Youth Who Are “Disconnected” and Those Who Then Reconnect: Assessing the Influence of Family, Programs, Peers and Communities, Child Trends
- County/Regional Reports
- Disconnected Youth in San Francisco: A Roadmap to Improve the Life Chances of San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable Young Adults, Mayor's Transitional Youth Task Force
- San Diego County Report Card on Children & Families
- What Factors Predict High School Graduation in the Los Angeles Unified School District?, California Dropout Research Project