Shifting the Paradigm: Empowering Youth Voices

Mar 25, 2019 | News

New Beginnings began the process of creating a statewide Youth Action Board (YAB) in 2017 and will fully implement the YAB over the next 18-months thanks to funding from the John T. Gorman Foundation. The primary goal of bringing the YAB to full scale is to improve the lives of vulnerable youth in Maine by ensuring that young people with lived experience dealing with the homeless, juvenile justice, behavioral health, and child welfare systems have their voices heard and can positively impact policy and service delivery.

New Beginnings is serving as the lead agency on this project and will provide support and resources to the YAB. Chris Bicknell, New Beginnings Executive Director is serving as the project leader for this 18-month project. In this role, he will engage statewide systems of care at the highest levels to create a platform for YAB members to be heard. Chris explains, “We are seeking a paradigm shift in youth engagement in Maine to reshape cross-sector policies and practices that affect system-involved youth in the state. We believe that a functioning YAB in Maine will create policy that is successful and informed by youths’ lived experience, ultimately improving the lives of vulnerable youth so that they can successfully transition to adulthood.”

Recruitment for the YAB will focus on adolescents and young adults who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness as well as those who have experienced interrelated barriers to success such as poverty, juvenile justice, and/or child welfare involvement. Members of the YAB will experience opportunities for meaningful participation in the decision-making that impacts the care they receive from these systems and will have the support they need to become the primary change agents advocating for their own needs and the needs of their peers and communities.

To learn more about this project or to get involved please text a message to 207-402-9106 or email Chris Bicknell at

Youth Action Board Specialist Search Underway

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