City launches “Youth Map” to catalog programs

Yesterday evening, Ward
1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12
announced the release of the
New Haven Youth Map, a
database where parents can
search for a variety of youth
programming for their children.
Yesterday evening, Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 announced the release of the New Haven Youth Map, a database where parents can search for a variety of youth programming for their children. Photo by Isaac Stanley-Becker .

The launch of the New Haven Youth Map puts the spotlight on a wealth of youth programs available to New Haven’s parents and students.

Yesterday evening, Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 announced the release of the New Haven Youth Map, a database where parents can search for a variety of youth programming for their children. The website is the end result of a two-year project, on which the Board of Alders collaborated with the Board of Education, the United Way and other service providers to consolidate the information in one user friendly website.

“We’ve been working to support existing youth programs and to pursue new ones where we need them,” Eidelson said. “We also know that there are so many service providers who are already doing extraordinary work in the community.”

Creating the New Haven Youth Map has been a part of the Board of Alders’ youth agenda to increase accessibility to camps, mentoring services and other programs, Eidelson said. Accessibility is key in student involvement in these programs, which have a large impact on student performance and engagement in school, said Garth Harries ’95, superintendent of New Haven Public Schools.

The website’s launch addresses parents’ requests for more clear access to educational resources for their children, Harries said. The Youth Map also serves as a starting point for schools to continue adding resources to the website, he added.

The Youth Map offers users several methods for searching for programs. Once the user has selected a program, the website displays a profile that the service provider has detailed with a description of the program costs, hours and goals, said Alicia King, a United Way Boost! representative.

The website serves as a tool that raises awareness about the opportunities for youths and addresses concerns that New Haven does not offer enough educational services for its students, said Stephanie Barnes, executive director for the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven.

“One of the things we often hear is there is nothing to do for youth in New Haven, and I have to disagree,” Barnes said.

The biggest challenge currently facing the website’s creators is community outreach, King said. They are planning to promote the program through Parent University, school orientation papers and eventually online advertisements, King said.

Collaborators looked to past youth maps programs that had failed and to current programs from other cities in order to ensure the program’s permanence, Eidelson said, adding that they paid special attention to what made Boston’s youth services website, Boston Navigator, a success.

“People didn’t use the old one. It wasn’t intuitive to use and it was old-fashioned,” Eidelson said.

The next step for the website is sharing data, said Jason Bartlett, youth services director. If nonprofit providers can see which programs are being used, they can allocate resources away from ineffective or unpopular programs to ones that New Haven residents use the most, Bartlett said. New Haven policymakers plan on using the Youth Map to track which programs are the most popular, indicating where they should allocate the city’s resources, he added.

The creators of the website also plan to develop a Youth Map in Spanish to reach out to more families in New Haven, King said. Because the contributors wanted to release the website before the summer, efforts were primarily focused on creating the English website, she said, adding that the Spanish website should be running in time for this fall.

The New Haven Youth Map currently features youth programming from 125 different providers.

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