For over 135 years, Children’s Home & Aid has been dedicated to creating communities where children and families thrive. Here’s what we’ve learned from this work:

  • Youth won’t succeed in their education if their living situation isn’t stable and they aren’t safe. If they aren’t healthy, their education is at risk. Without a solid education, they won’t be employable. If they aren’t employable, their chance for connections that can secure them to their community so they can fully contribute their talents is greatly reduced.
  • These six goals for youth are interconnected and interdependent. They must be supported in all six of these developmental areas to reach their full potential.
  • There are approaches that can and do work with elementary school, middle school and young adults.

The Youth Budget Commission established by Illinois law and convened this month exemplifies Children’s Home & Aid’s efforts to improve outcomes for older youth and young adults. The Youth Budget Commission is a legislative effort spearheaded by Children’s Home & Aid and the Start to Finish Coalition (S2F). Composed of 15 experts in youth and older youth policy and appointed by the Governor, the Youth Budget Commission will oversee the creation of the fiscal scan, an analysis of the state budget that will evaluate the budget as a series of interconnected developmental goals. The resulting analysis will be used to develop comprehensive policy recommendations that support our goal of ensuring youth are stable, safe, healthy, educated, employable and connected. The Commission will have a particular focus on racial disparities and how to best support disadvantaged youth populations.

This work raises — and begins to answer — questions about how to ensure that resources are invested equitably, and in a way that ensures effective results. The Youth Budget Commission and the Fiscal Scan of Illinois Public Investments in Children and Youth Ages 8-25 is the first step in developing an approach in Illinois to tracking investments in older youth and young adults over time, comparing these investments to program outcomes, and making these data publicly available. These efforts, along with a mobilized community, galvanized by S2F, committed to the premise that all youth can thrive, will help ensure that Illinois youth become self-sufficient adults who lead exceptional lives.

Why focus on youth and older adults? Because the growth and development of older youth and young adults require the same laser-focus that we give to young children. While most brain development occurs before the age of five, a person’s brain continues to develop into their mid 20’s. By intentionally developing strategies for youth and older adults, we can supplement the tremendous work done by early childhood advocates and ensure youth and older adults have the skills, education, and agency to succeed in life.

Children’s Home & Aid is looking forward to this collaborative work to advance outcomes for the youth and young adults in Illinois. For more information, please visit: or contact Eric Mayo at or 312-424-6872