Children's Cabinet Networks

The Forum's Children’s Cabinet Networks bring together federal, state and local leaders to assess and align government policies horizontally (across systems) and vertically (across levels of government).

About the Children's Cabinet Network
Children's Cabinets are systematically changing the fragmented ways that state and local governments do business for children and youth.

It’s well known that no single support or program is enough to ensure children and youth are on track developmentally, educationally, socially and emotionally.

Unfortunately, the manner in which rules, regulations and government structures are crafted makes it difficult for leaders to create and implement coordinated programs and services that address the comprehensive needs of young people. But there is much that can be done to simplify and untangle the patchwork of rigid polices and funding streams so they are more efficient and effective.

The Forum for Youth Investment’s policy staff work with federal, state and local leaders to assess and align government policies horizontally (i.e., across systems) and vertically (i.e., between levels of government from local to federal). Over the past 10 years, the team has increasingly trained their research, facilitation and advocacy skills on one task: promoting the art and science of policy alignment.

We do most of this work by supporting Children’s Cabinets. Sometimes known as councils or commissions or P-20 councils, Children’s Cabinets are typically made up of the heads of all government agencies with child- and youth-serving programs. 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.

The Forum’s Children’s Cabinet Networks consist of the Local Children’s Cabinet Network (in partnership with the Education Redesign Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Children’s Funding Project) and the State Children’s Cabinet Network (in partnership with the National Governors Association). We also work to support policy alignment at the federal level, for example partnering with the American Institutes for Research to provide technical assistance to the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (the federal government’s current closest equivalent to a children’s cabinet). Members of these networks share best practices and learn more about tools that focus on bringing efficiency and effectiveness to their efforts to improve outcomes for young people.

Children's Cabinet Network Services

  • Coaching and Technical Assistance

    The Forum provides technical assistance to Children's Cabinets and related federal, state and local policy coordinating bodies in various capacities. The Forum's areas of expertise include helping states to: - create a Children's Cabinet - develop common goals and shared data - generate a statewide plan for all children and youth - map a state's fiscal resources for young people

  • Children's Cabinet News

    E-newsletter highlighting innovative efforts to align policies across departments and levels of government.

  • Children's Cabinet Network Roundtables and Summits

    The Forum hosts annual Children's Cabinet Network Summits that bring together federal, state and local policy leaders and administrators to delve into specific alignment issues.

  • Conference calls and webinars

    Peer-to-peer conference calls on topics identified by Network members

Featured Resources

Strong and Sustainable Children’s Cabinets

This discussion guide, co-published with the Aspen Institute, is for state leaders who embrace the responsibility of improving the responsiveness and effectiveness of services to children and families.

Continuity Through Crisis: How Cabinets Meet the Needs of Young People During a Pandemic

Highlights of the structures and systems that cabinets use to ensure that they are prepared to meet the needs of children

2017 State Children's Cabinet Survey

Read which states had Children's Cabinets and what activities they focused on

Fiscal Mapping Tools

Read guides to creating fiscal maps of available resources

2016 Children's Cabinet Summit

Read what we learned at the 2016 State Children's Cabinet Summit

Getting Results for Children and Youth

Read Introduction to Children's Cabinets

Elements of Success: Structural Options

Read about structural options when configuring a children's cabinet

Transforming Government/Transforming Communities

Read best practices for federal staff helping communities implement place-based initiatives

Strategic Convenings

Read how to host effective convenings across departments and levels of government

Collective Impact for Policymakers

Learn how government policies can change to help partnerships achieve collective impact.

How Budget Flexibility Tools Help Address Social Determinants of Health

A recent Brookings webinar shows some of the techniques available for governments to “braid and blend” funds in order to focus on social determinants.

Knowledge Center

View all Children's Cabinet publications in our Knowledge Center

Our Vision

All young people reach their fullest potential - in education, work, and life.

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