Document Type


Source Publication Title

Journal of Policy Practice and Research


Completing education, obtaining employment, and securing an independent residence, tasks tied to an ideal of self-sufficiency are viewed as important hallmarks of adulthood. Yet, not all youth and young adults (YYA) have adequate resources and many require assistance to overcome transition barriers including lack of social support, poverty, and homelessness. This study analyzed the policy design and social justice values (equity, equality, and adequacy) of three federal workforce programs, authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and designed to increase economic self-sufficiency among disconnected YYA. These programs lack stable and adequate funding and currently serve a small fraction of the YYA who could benefit. A value of equity is evident in the eligibility and financing criteria, while adequacy as it relates to programming—particularly benefits and services offered to address basic needs, economic stability, and healthy development—warrants further investigation. The programs’ focus on self-sufficiency through connection to education, training, and employment ignores research suggesting that at least six other dimensions are crucial for a successful transition to adulthood. Research on program entry and exit, primary services/benefits received, and life experiences of program participants is needed to determine current levels of support and the potential of these programs to enhance other components of a healthy transition including health, community engagement, and social support among disconnected YYA. Such research may also need to be focused regionally, given the highly localized control of programs. [© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021. This is a published version of an article published by Springer Nature in Journal of Policy Practice and Research on May 21, 2021, available online:]


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work

Publication Date




Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 3000

Included in

Social Work Commons