Lessons for developing effective program curricula that serve youth
The curriculum of a youth-serving program is a critical component of its success, especially for programs that seek to increase participants’ knowledge and influence their attitudes, motivations, and behaviors. Child Trends learned a great deal about what’s involved in developing an effective curriculum through the development and testing of one of our hallmark programs: El Camino, a goal-setting and teen pregnancy prevention curriculum designed to fill the need for curricula developed for Latino youth in the United States.
To prepare for the development of El Camino, Child Trends sought to understand why Latino youth have high teen birth rates. We conducted reviews of research literature and analyses of nationally representative datasets, as well as interviews and focus groups with Latino parents and youth, and with program developers and implementers. Based on this formative research, we set out to develop and pilot a program that is culturally sensitive and incorporates the experiences of Latino teens.
Below, we present key takeaways that we believe can be applied to other youth-serving programs.