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White House Task Force for Disadvantaged Youth
January 28, 2003

President Bush recently established, by Executive Order, a White House Task Force for Disadvantaged Youth. The Executive Order notes that an unacceptably large number of American youth fail each year to develop the academic, social, and citizenship skills necessary to succeed in our country. For example, 60% of fourth graders from low-income families cannot read at grade level, more than 2.6 million teens use illicit substances each month, and 400,000 teens commit violent crimes each year.

A 1998 analysis by the General Accounting Office found that there were 117 federal programs administered by 15 departments aimed at disadvantaged youth. Some of these programs have been very successful. However, overall, the federal government's efforts and programs to assist disadvantaged young people have been fragmented and not as successful as hoped.

The Task Force is directed to develop a comprehensive federal response, under existing authorities and programs, to the problems of youth failure, with a focus on enhanced agency accountability and effectiveness. Objectives shall include: (a) coordinating interagency efforts to address the problems of failure among disadvantaged youth; (b) developing a unified research plan to identify effective practices that help disadvantaged youth; (c) incorporating positive youth development practices that help disadvantaged youth; and (d) analyzing and quantifying the impact of federal efforts aimed at disadvantaged youth.

A preliminary report is to be filed not later than April 30 of the initial overall assessment of the federal response to failure among disadvantaged youth under existing authorities and programs, including a work plan that details the goals and objectives for the Task Force and evaluates the potential for expanding successful federal disadvantaged youth programs through program consolidation, redirection of resources, and elimination of ineffective programs. A final report describing the actions of the Task Force to respond to the problem of youth failure is to be submitted not later than October 1.

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