Youth Councils and Commissions
Commissioners/Commissions for Children
According to the Forum for Youth investment, children’s cabinets are typically made up of the heads of all government agencies with child- and youth-serving programs, and they can operate at any level of government, such as city, county, state, or federal. They meet regularly to coordinate services, develop a common set of outcomes, and collaboratively decide upon and implement plans to foster the well-being of young people.
- Letter to Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, from national children’s advocacy organizations providing specific recommendations for the implementation of the children’s interagency coordinating council housed in the Office of the HHS Secretary as required by the House and Senate FY 2022 Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bills.
- Children’s Cabinet Network from the Forum for Youth Investment brings together federal, state, and local leaders to assess and align government policies—at any level (e.g., city, county, state, etc.)—horizontally (across systems) and vertically (across levels of government). See examples of state children’s cabinets.
- A Governor’s Guide to Children’s Cabinets, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
- Local Children’s Cabinets Network is co-hosted and co-managed by the Children’s Funding Project, Education Redesign Lab (EdRedesign) at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Forum for Youth Investment. The Network supports the growing number of communities across the country that have committed to move beyond traditional, fragmented approaches to serving children and youth by convening a children’s cabinet to improve child and youth outcomes. See a list of local children’s cabinets.
- The Urgent Need for Children’s Cabinets, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Youth Councils and Commissions
- Promoting Youth Participation Action Kit for Municipal Leaders, National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
- A Guide for Creating a City Youth Council, Florida League of Cities
- Authentic Youth Civic Engagement, from the National League of Cities Institute for Youth Education, and Families, includes several local examples of youth engagement at the city level.
- Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council is a bi-partisan, youth-led initiative to establish a Presidential Youth Council, comprised of young Americans ages 16-24, to advise the president on the perspectives of youth, offer suggestions on the design and implementation of youth policies, and to create shared recommendations on issues that will affect the long-term future of our country.
- California Youth Commissions and Councils is a compilation of local youth commissions, councils, and advisory boards.
- Mayor’s Youth Council, Boston, Massachusetts
- Mayors Youth Advisory Commission, Tempe, Arizona
- The Students Commission of Canada is an organization that works to help create a world where young people are valued and heard and their ideas for improving themselves, the lives of their peers, and their communities are put into action.
Commissioners/Commissions for Children
At least 85 countries outside the U.S. have children’s country-wide and/or local commissions/commissioners, according to the Child Rights International Network.
- Children’s Commissioners and Ombudsman Offices: What can the U.S. learn from foreign counterparts? First Focus
- Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland
- Children’s Commissioner for England
- National Commission on the Rights of the Child, Belgium
- Office of the Children’s Commissioner, New Zealand
Ombudsman offices within government exist to address individual complaints and identify and address system-wide problems within government agencies. There are different types of ombudsman offices, including those that exist within local, state, and federal government; address various issues, such as education, health, transportation, etc.; and focus on particular populations, such as children or sub-populations of children, seniors, and other identified groups of individuals. Generally, ombudsman offices operate by managing complaints from clients of programs and the public, monitoring the operations of government programs and services, and making recommendations for improvements to relevant systems.
Children’s Ombudsman Offices—also known as Offices of the Child Advocate—exist in approximately 38 states to assist in providing oversight at both the state and local level related to services for children and families. Most children’s ombudsman offices are primarily concerned with child welfare services and may operate within or outside of the state’s child welfare agency and operate as other ombudsmen offices described above. Like other ombudsman offices, they are concerned with resolving both individual and system-wide problems with the child welfare or other child-focused agency.
- Ombudswork for Children, UNICEF
- European Network of Ombudspersons for Children is an association of independent children’s rights institutions (ICRIs). Its mandate is to facilitate the promotion and protection of the rights of children, as formulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Roles of Auditing in Public Sector Governance, The Institute of Internal Auditors
State Auditors Offices
All states have a state auditor’s office or an office that assumes the responsibilities of a state auditor. The function of the state auditor is housed in either a state’s legislature (23 states), executive office/state administration (33 states), or both (8 states).
Among other duties, state auditors act as watchdogs over other state agencies, performing internal government audits and investigating fraud allegations. For example, a state auditor may analyze how a state department of education is addressing certain educational needs of children or how a state health department is meeting required public health benchmarks.
Depending on state laws, state auditors can perform an audit on any or select departments, institutions, or agencies and assess an entity’s overall performance or performance in providing select services or serving a particular population. Some state auditors assess political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, school districts, water districts, and others.
Examples of State Audits Related to Children:
- Weaknesses in Its Medi-Cal Dental Program Limit Children’s Access to Dental Care, California state audit of the state’s Medicaid dental program for children
- Chronic and Systemic Issues in Oregon’s Mental Health Treatment System Leave Children and Their Families in Crisis, Oregon state audit of the state’s mental health treatment system
Local Government Auditors
Across the U.S., there are select government auditors in practically all levels of local government, including cities, counties, school districts, tribal governments, utility districts, and others. They perform similar roles as state auditors—keeping the government entity accountable to the public. To find out if a local government entity has an auditor, search the entity’s website or ask a public official. You can also advocate for the creation of an auditor within a government entity.