Caring Adults

Caring adults are the centerpieces of children’s development. They serve as guides, caretakers and advisers, who give positive and productive guidance throughout their development.

Parents come first. But children and youth also need other caring adults in all aspects of their lives: in their schools, neighborhoods, activities and communities. They need a network of caring and nurturing relationships with adults among their extended families, neighbors, teachers and coaches. And by all accounts, this positive influence in their lives proves to be substantially beneficial.

We measure “caring adults” not only by good relationships between parents and their children, but also by the involvement of others in school and through their communities who can guide, assist and mentor young people toward bright futures. What’s more, young people actively want this developmental resource. More than one-half of young people in the 2006 America’s Promise Voices Study(link)  said that they look for advice and help from adults on doing well in school, relationships with friends, jobs and careers, and college. And more than 40 percent of the young people ages 8 through 21 said they want more adults in their lives to whom they can turn for help.

The 2006 National Promises Study reveals a number of troubling gaps in the distribution of this cornerstone Promise: One-third of teens and 20 percent of younger children do not have quality relationships with their parents.  More than 55 percent of adolescents and 40 percent of younger children do not have caring adults in their homes, schools and communities. The 2014 report by MENTOR entitled The Mentoring Effect also showed that 13.5 million young Americans are without formal or even informal mentors in their lives, leaving them short of caring adults in their lives who have the ability to help them through critical moments when they most need guidance and support.

And all indicators point to this assistance being very powerful in the lives of young Americans. In its 2014 study The Mentoring Effect, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership showed that young people with formal and even informal mentors in their lives were far more likely to stay in school, enroll in college, become active in sports, become leaders and generally pursue higher goals than those who do not have mentoring relationships in their lives.

With the right guidance, young Americans are far more likely to make the wise life choices that will keep them on track to reaching the American dream as adults.All children and youth need and deserve support and guidance from caring adults in their families, schools and communities. These include ongoing, secure relationships with guardians, parents and other family members, as well as positive relationships with teachers, mentors, coaches and neighbors.

Related Resources

Back to School: Exploring Promising Practices for Re-engaging Young People in Secondary Education

Dec 10, 2014Stemming from the Don’t Call Them Dropouts report, based on careful listening to young people who didn’t graduate in four years America’s Promise Alliance’s Center for Promise released Back to School: Exploring Promising Practices for Re-Engaging Young People in Secondary Education. The paper explores ways to strengthen and expand re-engagement options for young people who need more time or different pathways to finish school. The paper is designed as a resource for educators, practitioners, community stakeholders, communications professionals and policymakers interested in supporting out-of-school youth who wish to obtain a high school credential. A high school diploma is by no means a guarantee of success, but failure to complete high school is a devastatingly accurate predictor of lifelong struggle and unrealized human potential. If birth is life’s starting line, then high school graduation is life’s second starting line for success.

Building a Grad Nation Report: 2011 Annual Update

Jan 14, 2014This report is the first annual update of the November 2010 report, Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic. It was released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center in March 2011 and shows the nation continues to make progress in its efforts to keep students in school. The report found that the number of high schools graduating 60 percent or less of students on time decreased by 112 between 2008 and 2009. The report update also includes four case studies highlighting success: Baltimore, Md.; Canton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Hillsborough County, Fla.

Building a Grad Nation: Progress & Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

Jan 14, 2014The most comprehensive graduation research report of late found that for the first time the U.S. is on track to meet the national Grad Nation goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the class of 2020. The national high school graduation rate increased 6.5 percentage points since 2001 with an average growth of 1.25 percentage points each year from 2006-2010 to 78.2. As a result of this acceleration more than 200,000 additional students received diplomas in 2010 than in 2006. The 2013 report update of Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, released February 25 by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, shows that the nation continues to make progress.

Don't Call Them Dropouts

May 20, 2014“Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” a report by America’s Promise Alliance based on research conducted by its Center for Promise at Tufts University, was funded by Target. In the largest nationwide study of its kind to date, young adults who left high school without graduating spoke at length about their experiences and the reasons they did not complete high school on time. As the nation reaches the all-time high of an 80 percent on-time high school graduation rate, this report listens deeply to what the remaining 20 percent say is happening in their lives, and what they need to stay in school. Their answers defy some common beliefs about why they do not graduate on time, while giving deeper meaning to others. The researchers began with in-depth interviews with more than 200 young people who had not graduated from high school, and then conducted a quantitative survey of more than 2,000 young adults ages 18-25 who did not complete high school on time. In addition, 1,000 students who graduated on time were surveyed.

Every Child Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action

Jan 14, 2014This report presents the first national research that comprehensively measures the presence of the essential resources -- the Five Promises -- that correlate with success in both youth and adulthood. The report clearly shows that we have much work to do as a nation. But it also shows how we can turn failure into action and improve the lives of young people at risk.

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