Indiana Youth Institute Presents at Monthly Arts Education Forum

One might ask: what is the state of the child in Indiana? Well, 1 in 8 kids in foster care have been waiting 4 years or longer for adoption. Child care costs families in Marion…

One might ask: what is the state of the child in Indiana? Well, 1 in 8 kids in foster care have been waiting 4 years or longer for adoption. Child care costs families in Marion County $10,413 on average. 50.7% of students are passing ISTEP+, and this number drops substantively for students of color. 1 in 4 children live in a high housing-cost burden household. And Black infants’ have an infant mortality rate of 15.3, which is 5.5 points higher than the next highest rate.

But, it’s not all bleak. Indiana has seen consistent decreases in children in poverty, juveniles committed to the Department of Correction, and 9th – 12th graders using cigarettes and increases in teens employed and median household income. Indiana ranks 7th in the nation for 4th grade reading proficiency, 13th for high school graduation, and is seeing increases in high quality early childhood education access and quality.

These startling and enlightening statistics were all apart of presentation by Yalonda Brown and Sarah Mihich from the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) at the March Arts Education & Community Outreach Forum on March 7, 2019 and can be found in their 2019 Indiana KIDS COUNT Data Book. They presented to a group of local arts education programmers and advocates who were interested in hearing about what specific challenges children in Indiana are facing – children who are the direct beneficiaries of their programs and services.

This was the first time the Youth Institute presented specifically to a group of arts education professionals, though several organizations represented in the room reported doing individual consulting work with the group. Understandably, the presenters spent a healthy amount of time on the education outcomes for students in Indiana. Even more enlightening was their emphasis on quality mentoring to improving outcomes for these students – something many arts organizations do now through both individual and ensemble work.

IYI’s research finds that youth with a mentor experience better educational, vocational, and psychosocial outcomes, and this includes one-to-one, group, and team mentoring. This is extremely reassuring for the work our arts community is doing in Marion County, with arts education and community outreach programs reaching all 25 districts in the city. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. But IYI has some solutions that organizations are encouraged to explore:

  • In local communities, work across sectors to identify the children most in need of a mentor and find matches.
  • Engage in continuous improvement to align with quality mentoring standards.
  • Support and increase private sector engagement in quality mentoring.

IYI also has a number of other various resources that youth serving organizations can and should take advantage of:

  • County Snapshot  – key Indicator data to better understand the youth in your county.
  • Technical Assistance Funds focused on improved implementation of specific mentoring practices
  • Data services for custom data requests that you’re unable to find in the Kids Count Data Book

The Indiana Youth Institute presented as a part of a monthly forum series on arts education and community outreach. Arts Education & Community Outreach forums are programmed by the Arts Council of Indianapolis and take place on the first Thursday of each month, 10:30 am on even months and 5:30 pm on odd months, at the Arts Council offices. Contact Rishard Allen ( to be added to the forum email list.