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Review for First Place for Youth, Oakland, CA, USA

Rating: 2 stars  

The staff at First Place are highly qualified and dedicated, and the organization is well intentioned. There are some serious problems however, which are masked by misleading and selective outcomes reporting. The often quoted educational outcome for example, which reports the percentage of youth who enroll in an educational program as a marker of success, is vague and misleading. This percentage represents only the percentage of youth who enroll -- as in sign up for a class, usually with strong assistance from a staff member -- at a Community College or vocational program. This percentage does not represent the number of youth who graduate from an educational program, nor the number of youth who even complete the course for which they signed up. Similarly, the percentage of youth who exit to stable housing upon leaving the program, which is touted as another measure of success, is again vague and misleading. Stable housing may include living with a family member, and could in fact be the exact same housing situation a youth was in prior to entering the program. So a youth who was living with a relative enters program, receives a rental subsidy and lives in an apartment for 2 years. Upon exit, that youth returns to live with the same family member. This is certainly better and more stable than homelessness or an unaffordable rental situation, but should not be portrayed as a positive outcome since it represents no actual change.

More inclusive, comprehensive and transparent outcomes would paint a more complete and detailed picture programs, and would help the organization identify and address areas for improvement.

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