Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Campaign Trail Comes Through DCAYA


There are campaign signs up on light poles, #DCision14 in tweets, and more debates and forums around town than even the candidates themselves can keep up with. Campaign season is in full swing in the District, and here at DCAYA we are in on the action. This year we are debuting our DCAYA Candidate Questionnaire.

As advocates for the youth of DC, we recognize that one of the critical starting points of a youth-friendly city is educating potential policymakers and the people who vote for them. This year we chose the Socratic method - ask the candidates basic questions about youth issues in DC and have them research, then articulate their answers in less than 150 words.

We had a 100% response rate. Every candidate in every race —Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 5, Ward 6, At-Large, Chair, and Mayoral -- gave us their answers to our questions. [Please note:  We are only covering the candidates in a race for the primary election on April 1 (all Democrats). We will do another questionnaire to cover everyone else in the general election later in the year.]

The candidates’ answers will be released on our website this Monday, February 24. They answered the five questions listed below. The first question allows them to broadly outline their youth-specific priorities. The following four questions focus on the DCAYA issue areas: youth homelessness, youth workforce development, expanded learning, and disconnected youth.

Now we present the questions to you: the youth service provider, the young citizen in DC, the concerned resident. An educated, voting public is far more important than any candidate elected to office. Your homework (or as we like to call it “guided internet surfing”) for the next few days is to research the best answers to these questions.  That way you'll be ready to evaluate the candidates’ responses and decide who you support. If you are a youth service provider, this can even be a great activity to walk through with your youth. Happy surfing:

The Questions
1) What youth-specific legislation would you introduce in your first 100 days of office?

2) Homelessness is a clear and present issue in the District of Columbia. Homelessness among minors (under 18), youth (18-24), and young parents (under 24) is a particularly acute and complex issue. How will you address this issue?

3) Only 13.2% of 16-19 years olds and 42% of 20-24 years olds were able to find paid, unsubsidized employment that they were qualified for in DC in 2011. What is your plan to improve successful entry to the workforce for DC youth?

4) Recent studies have shown that quality expanded learning improves DC youths’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Yet, each year there are thousands of DC youth who remain unable to participate in programs that improve academic, social/emotional, health and workforce readiness outcomes. What do you think are the barriers? How would you remove the barriers you’ve identified?
5) In DC, around 14,000 youth are disconnected from school and work. The majority of them are trying to re-engage, but there are many obstacles including a time-consuming childcare voucher system, costly public transport, and having to go to several bureaus to get proper documentation. How would you most effectively address these barriers?

Have an answer or opinion to any of the questions above? You can join the conversation by adding your two cents below. We want to hear! And remember, follow us on Twitter at @DCAYA and @KDunnTweets so you can be the first to know when the candidates answers are released this coming Monday.

The Democratic Primary, April 1st, is just around the corner. We look forward to seeing our educated, youth-focused audience at the polls!

Katie Dunn is the Youth Homelessness and Expanded Learning Policy Analyst at DCAYA. Her first experience in politics was being on a campaign radio commercial when she was 5 years old. Look for her tweets around the election and youth issues at @KDunnTweets

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