According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates (2017), there are about 44 million youth age 10-19 in the United States, 13% of the total U.S. population. Of these, approximately 21 million are between the ages of 15 to 19 (2019). Children from ethnic and racial minorities together comprise half of the population under age 18. Twenty-five percent of all children (age 0-17) are first or second generation immigrants, most of which do not speak English at home. The share is even higher in some states—for example, nearly half of children in California (48 percent) are children of immigrants.
Teenagers from all ethnicities face unique challenges, especially in 2020 where their home and school life has been so disrupted. The need for connection and routine among at-risk youth in urban areas has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Shutdowns lead to a rise in juvenile crime. Some crimes have skyrocketed as troubled teenagers have lost access to programs and support systems. Crime rises when kids are left alone, and right now, a lot of kids… are left alone or are left with a family member who may not be used to caring for them. It makes crime easy, according to a director of the Boys and Girls Clubs (BGC).
The numerous after-school programs offered by BGCs and YMCAs have been an important resource by providing numerous options for young people to stay engaged. Unfortunately, many programs have been shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic. The YMCA engages 9 million youth across all programming, including over 1 million youth in youth sports programs. Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs serve nearly 4 million kids and teens. Clubs are located in rural and urban areas, public housing communities, public and private schools, and Native lands.
Many state and local governments are working with these organizations in an attempt to fill in the gaps lefts by mandated school shutdowns and distance learning. YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs are creating all-day learning centers that make sure students stay on task during virtual classes with their actual schools while their parents are at work.
For instance, Tennessee is partnering with the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs to Provide Free Child Care to Essential Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency. Through this partnership, the Y and BGC will establish a network of temporary/emergency child care locations across the state. Our first responders, medical professionals, and other essential workers who are continuing to serve citizens each day are the heartbeat of Tennessee right now, said Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes.