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Aligning for Young Families:
The System Alignment for Young Families (SAYF) Project



Welcome! The following is a product of the System Alignment for Young Families (SAYF) Project. Beginning with a Technical Working Group of parents, state and local human services leaders and national advocates, SAYF worked to map essential inroads to system alignment for young families accomplished in partnership with parents and families. Building off this work the SAYF Learning Community brought together six state and local teams made up of cross-programmatic leadership and parent leaders with lived experience. The teams are working together to form a Strategic Alignment Plan (SAP) that breaks down programmatic agency silos with the goal of better serving young families. The materials that follow serve as resources that highlight the work done so far by our site teams and aid other jurisdictions in launching similar work. This work is led by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) with generous support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

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Why Young Families?

  • Approximately 3.4 million children live with parents aged 18-24.

  • Young families utilize important health and human services programs at higher rates than other families.

  • Young parents are uniquely motivated and exceptionally resilient.

  • For every $1 invested in young children and families through high quality programs like childcare, home visiting programs, between $7 and $12 are saved in future interventions.

  • Fewer programs and services target the unique experiences of young fathers.

  • Youth in foster care are more likely to be young parents.  

Project Created Resources

SAYF Project Insights

Aligning for Prevention: Serving Young Families Better
 (Policy & Practice, August 2022)

In this Policy & Practice magazine article, project leaders Mary Nelson and Meg Dygert of APHSA dive into strategies health and human services agencies can take to align their systems to better support young parents and their children, ultimately preventing downstream system involvement.

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Working Together- A Roadmap to 

Human Services System Alignment for Young Families
 (December 2021)

In 2021, APHSA established the System Alignment Working Group for Children and Families with a group of dedicated human services leaders and stakeholders across sectors, including parent representatives. The Working Group was tasked with identifying strengths and barriers in our current human services systems, opportunities for better system alignment, and to lay the foundations for a framework to effective human services alignment resulting in improved outcomes for young parents and their children. Members engaged in an iterative process with monthly development sessions, interactive workshops and convenings, and providing one-on-one feedback to APHSA staff. The results of these efforts lead to the production of this roadmap designed to support human services leaders at every level to facilitate meaningful systems-level changes to better serve the children and families in their communities.

A Vison for Young Families

Starting in March 2022, six cross-systems teams from state and local human services agencies, including parent leaders, joined the System Alignment for Young Families (SAYF) Learning Academy to create an actionable plan to improve cohesive supports to young parents and their children across human services. Each team started their work by co-creating with parents and systems leaders a vision for the future to guide their work.

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Getting Started - The System Alignment Plan Template
This template was used by States in the System Alignment for Young Families Learning Community, the System Alignment Plan (SAP) gives agencies a step-by-step breakdown of steps needed to achieve their goals to better align their programs and services. The SAP is designed to help agencies teams organize their work into manageable steps that can be revisited as the project developments. Use this template to start your jurisdictions own journey toward system alignment. View an example here.

Working With Parents

Supporting Young Families Toolkit


This list of resources serves as an update to APHSA’s 2023 Toolkit for Supporting Young Families Through Human Services. It provides links to a multitude of resources to help health and human services leaders evaluate and intentionally design programs to meet the unique needs of young families. Additionally, this toolkit update prioritizes resources that inform agencies on best practices to equitable, trauma informed strategies to authentic partnerships with parents for program design and policy change.

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Resource Toolkit
Resources to Co-Design Systems with and for Young Families

Project Site features
Voices From The Project
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Young Parent Voices

In a time when narratives around young parents can present a bleak picture, Nicole Lynn Lewis, author of Pregnant Girl, shifts the narrative by sharing her personal story of a different future for young mothers. Nicole shares a new perspective on how poverty, classism, and systemic racism impact teen pregnancy and how effective programs and equitable policies can help teen parents earn college degrees, have increased opportunity, and create a legacy of educational and career achievements in their families.


Joining this session are Parent Leaders from APHSA's System Alignment for Children & Families Working Group, a part of the SAYF Project. Christine Perez, Kennashka DeSilva, and Mariah Hunt celebrate their successes as parents, students and professionals and hearing their thoughts on what we can do to create a better future for all young families.

Contact Us

Contact Us

To learn more or connect with a project lead, please reach out to Kapria Lee, Project Associate, Child and Family Well-Being, APHSA and/or Khristian Monterroso, Project Associate, Economic Mobility and Well-Being, APHSA.


 This research was funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Inc., and we thank them for their support; however, the findings and conclusions presented on this page are those of the author(s) alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation

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