Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Grant Program

Through an annual Congressional appropriation, the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Grant Program through NIFA, allocates funding to land-grant university extension services for community-based programs for at-risk children and their families.

General Information

The CYFAR mission is to marshal resources of the Land-Grant and Cooperative Extension Systems so that, in collaboration with other organizations, they can develop and deliver educational programs that equip youth who are at risk for not meeting basic human needs with the skills they need to lead positive, productive, contributing lives. The CYFAR Program is based on research on effective programs for at-risk youth and families and on the human ecological principle of working across the lifespan in the context of the family and community.

Since 1991, CYFAR has supported programs in more than 600 communities in all states and territories. State and local public and private organizations have contributed cash and in-kind resources that match or exceed the federal appropriation. CYFAR supports comprehensive, intensive, community-based programs developed with active citizen participation. CYFAR promotes positive youth and family development by supporting healthy environments and providing opportunities for learning and leadership by youth and adults in their communities.

American children and families are at substantial risk for negative outcomes such as infant mortality, undernourishment, child abuse and neglect, poor health and much more. When basic needs of a large proportion of children, youth, and families are not being met, the workforce, the economy, the social structure, education, justice, and democratic government are all weakened.

Poverty is a problem in rural and suburban areas and in cities. Many risk factors affect this situation. For instance, the infant mortality rate is more than 50 percent higher for children born into families below—rather than above—the poverty line. Death by disease for poor children and youth is five times higher than for children at higher income levels. Homicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds and is the leading cause of death among black youth.

Thirteen million American children and youth don't have enough to eat. Fourteen percent of children and youth under age 18 do not have health insurance. Eleven percent of youth 16 to 24 years old have dropped out of high school and/or failed to receive a GED. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diagnosed in 3.75 million adolescents each year.

Expanding troop deployments to dangerous assignments, constant media coverage on casualties, and youth needing to assume greater family responsibilities leave many youth from military families feeling lonely and afraid. Children in these kinds of situations are at immediate risk for not having their fundamental needs met for safety, shelter, food, and care.

The vision of the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Grant Program is a nation of strong, resilient families and communities in which children and youth lead positive, secure, and happy young lives while developing the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary for fulfilling, contributing adult lives. The CYFAR Program is based on research on effective programs for at-risk youth and families and on the human ecological principle of working across the lifespan in the context of the family and community.

To assure that critical needs of children and families are met, CYFAR supports comprehensive, intensive, community-based programs developed with active citizen participation in all phases. CYFAR promotes building resiliency and protective factors in youth, families, and communities.  

CYFAR supports collaboration--forming lasting partnerships to achieve greater outcomes and to provide a support base for sustaining programs for those at risk. CYFAR also promotes the use of technology to improve programs, provide efficient access to educational resources, and provide essential technological skills for youth and adults in at-risk environments.

The CYFAR Program integrates resources of the Land-Grant University System to develop and deliver educational programs that equip limited-resource families and youth who are at risk for not meeting basic human needs to lead positive, productive, and contributing lives. The CYFAR program is committed to the vision that:

  1. Babies will be born healthy, and young children will have their basic physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs met.
  2. School-age youth and teens will demonstrate knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for fulfilling, contributing lives.
  3. Parents will take primary responsibility for meeting their children's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs and provide moral guidance and direction.
  4. Families will promote positive, productive, and contributing lives for all family members.
  5. Communities will provide safe, secure environments for families with children.
Program Type: 
Grant Program
Contact: 
Bonita Williams

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