Abstract: Lessons Learned from Centering Racial Justice in the Development of a Youth Survey for a County-Wide Health and Wellness Initiative (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Lessons Learned from Centering Racial Justice in the Development of a Youth Survey for a County-Wide Health and Wellness Initiative

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Charles Lea, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Tiffany Jones, PhD MSW MFT, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Angela Malorni, PhD, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Henry Joel Crumé, MSW, PhD Candidate, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Samantha Bruick, BS, MSW Student, Colorado State University
Marcus Brown, MSW, Research Assistant, University of Houston
Michael Spencer, PhD, Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background and Purpose: Centering racial justice in developing measures of positive youth development (PYD) can improve the psychometric properties and outcomes of youth surveys in ways that better inform decision-making and strategies that can address the root causes of racial inequity, disadvantage, disparity among BIPOC youth (Edmonds et al., 2021; Gregory & Fergus, 2017). This process involves understanding the history of racism and white supremacy and addressing past harms, using critical frameworks, centering the history, cultures and voices of racial and ethnic young people, and applying the practice of accountability, love, and disruption and resistance to the status quo (Racial Equity Tools, n.d.). Using community-based participatory research (CBPR) for measurement development is one way to center racial justice because it is a partnership approach that equitably involves community members and university researchers in all aspects of the measurement development process (Israel et al., 1998; 2003; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008). However, few studies have reported the successes and challenges involved in using CBPR to center racial justice in youth measurement development. This paper discusses the lessons learned in partnering with county staff and racially and ethnically diverse adults and young people in CBYDPs in an effort to center racial justice in the development of a youth survey for a county-wide health and wellness initiative.

Methods. Guided by nine principles, CBPR is a collaborative research approach that establishes structures that ensures equitable participation among communities affected by the issue being studied, representatives of organizations, and researchers to improve health and well-being through taking action and social change (Israel et al., 1998; Viswanathan et al., 2004). From 2018 through 2021, we strived to achieve these principles in using CBPR to develop and validate a survey that includes incremental indicators of “success” associated with youth health and well-being outcomes. Phase 1 of this project focused on building community-driven definitions of positive youth development (PYD), identifying existing and developing new constructs and items, conducting cognitive interviews to refine constructs and items for cultural relevance and developmentally appropriateness, and pilot testing (n=320). Phase 2 involved building a research-practice Youth Measurement Tool Committee (YMTC), collaboratively refining the survey based on Phase 1 results, testing the changes (n=535), and making final recommendations.

Results: In reflecting on our collaborative measurement development process, we offer five key lessons learned: 1) issues of race and racial justice need to be at the forefront of measurement; 2) CBPR measurement development creates better quality surveys; 3) further inquiry needed to better understand within/between group differences regarding conceptualizations of race and ethnicity; 4) relationship building is critical for measurement development processes involving university researchers and community members; and 5) engaging in reflexivity is critical for all co-researchers.

Conclusions and Implications: CBPR is an important approach to developing quality, culturally relevant measures of PYD. The process involves constant negotiation between university researchers and both adult and youth community members' worldviews concerning PYD, research, and measurement.