What We Do
The Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) works to improve the lives of children, youth, and families by supporting and creating new knowledge and encouraging the use of evidence-based knowledge in practice and in public and private policy development related to children, youth, and family issues. Our various programs (see Our Programs for a complete description) are intended to:
- Design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based educational programs to enhance community professionals' practices and inform policies relevant to children, youth, and families.
- Generate or facilitate research relevant to practice and policymaking on the issues and needs of children, youth, and families.
- Engage communities in respectful, reciprocal partnerships aimed at reducing inequities in educational and health outcomes for children, youth, and families.
- Infuse principles of engagement, research and an ecological perspective to enhance our partners' work to promote positive educational and health outcomes for children, youth, and families.
- Create a supportive academic culture for community-engaged scholarship.
CYFC's work is directed by a set of perspectives and guiding principles. Information on these perspectives and principles, and related CYFC program examples, is provided below.
Children, youth, families, and the communities in which they live are multi-dimensional. Their strengths as well as the problems they encounter are not the purview of a single discipline. Complex problems require solutions that integrate the best of multiple areas of inquiry and diverse ways of knowing in order to be successful. For an example, see the Minnesota Children and Nature Connection.
The well-being of children, youth, and families is shaped, at least in part, by the reciprocal influence of multiple systems and environments in which the individuals live and interact, as illustrated by CYFC's Circles of Influence model (465 K PDF). These include the social environment, made up of family, neighborhood, workplace, schools, community, religious institutions, policy, law, media, society, culture, and more. It also includes the natural and designed environments. For an example, see the Children's Mental Health Case Studies.
Development occurs at every stage of life, with each developmental stage influencing the next. All individuals go through processes of change throughout their lives that have lasting effects on their well-being. Over time, the interaction of innate or biological factors (such as maturation) and environmental factors shape an individual's life course. For an example, see Wonder Years.
CYFC aligns its work with the threefold land grant mission of the University of Minnesota — teaching, research, and outreach — by modeling and encouraging the adoption of public engagement methods and principles in the implementation of research and teaching. For an example, see the CYFC Scholars program.
CYFC partners with stakeholders in reciprocal relationships — characterized by reciprocity, respect, trust, authenticity, communication and commitment — to insure mutual benefit and accountability.
CYFC embraces and respects the various experiences, perspectives, knowledge and values that come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, world views, faith systems, sexual orientations, physical and mental capacities, and stages of life. For an example, see the Cultural Providers Network.
CYFC contributes balanced, evidence-based information to policy conversations. CYFC's work, including policy work, is grounded in research. We are non-partisan and support no specific political position, party, or ideology. For an example, see Wonder Years.
Strengths and Assets-based
CYFC identifies and highlights the assets and strengths of children, youth, families, and communities and builds on them to develop solutions and strategies to address needs and problems. For an example, see the Children's Mental Health Case Studies.