Our work in Iowa

The Youth Policy Institute of Iowa (YPII) brings innovation and critical thinking to the youth services field in Iowa. The scope of our work includes public policy analysis, youth program design, quality improvement, research and evaluation. Much of our work focuses on programs and policies related to system-involved youth who are transitioning to adulthood. Current projects include:

Iowa Aftercare Services Network (IASN): YPII provides coordination, policy development, technical assistance, quality assurance and evaluation for a statewide network of agencies that provide services and support to young people who age out of foster care and other court-ordered placements. IASN services include monthly financial support to qualifying youth under Iowa’s Preparation for Adult Living Program.

Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative: YPII is the lead agency in Iowa for the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a national foundation working to ensure that young people make successful transitions from foster care to adulthood. Leading this work involves implementing a broad set of strategies that include engaging young people, bringing together public and private partners for system reform efforts, using data to drive decisions, and galvanizing public support.

Opportunity Passport™: YPII administers Opportunity Passport™, a package of resources aimed at advancing the economic well-being of young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood in the greater Des Moines area, and supports and oversees the program in six expansion sites in the state. Iowa Opportunity Passport™ participants have saved for and purchased more than $825,000 in assets with matching funds from YPII.

Youth InSights: All youth, particularly those most vulnerable to becoming disconnected or disenfranchised, deserve to have a say in planning their future. InSights provides a vehicle for sharing the perspectives and views of young people involved in Iowa’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems, while offering insights to those who are entrusted with decisions affecting their care and well-being.  

Race Equity and Inclusion: In advocating for change of racial child welfare issues YPII works to build capacity and awareness of race equity by providing an array of resources for those joining us in reducing
disproportionality and disparate outcomes for youth of color.  In collaboration with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Iowa’s Cultural Equity Alliance Steering Committee and other partners, our most recent work has focused on development of an innovative race equity training modality. 

OPT-in: Youth who have experienced foster care often face challenges that hinder their success in postsecondary settings. OPT-in is a summer bridge program in the Des Moines area that offers youth an opportunity to gain the skills, confidence and the extra support they need to be successful after completing high school.