What Does the Church’s New Initiative for Children and Youth Mean for You and Your Family?

Contributed By Scott Taylor, Church News Managing Editor

  • 11 May 2018

LDS youth attend the temple in Paraguay. The Church’s new initiative for children and youth—a uniform leadership and development program that serves members worldwide—begins in 2020.

With the Church announcing an end to its century-long affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of 2019 and the start of a new initiative for children and youth—a uniform leadership and development program that serves members worldwide—beginning in 2020, you’ve likely got some questions.

When does the change take place?

Although announced by the Church on May 8, the Church’s relationship with the Boy Scouts of America as a chartered organization will continue through December 31, 2019. The Church’s new initiative for children and youth development will begin January 1, 2020.

What will be going away?

Beginning in 2020, the Church will drop its involvement in Scouting for boys ages 8 through 13 and those 14 and older working on rank advancement. And while a good share of the May 8 announcement focused on the Church ending its 105-year chartered-organization status with BSA in the United States, the Church also said it will discontinue any Scouting-related involvement worldwide at the same time.

Also, the Church said changes may come to other current children and youth programs, including Faith in God for Girls and Boys, Activity Days for Girls and Boys, Young Women Personal Progress, and Young Men Duty to God.

Young people help prepare food boxes for people in need. Service will be an important and continuing component of the new initiative.

What’s coming in its place?

The new initiative for children and youth development begins in 2020. Here’s what we know about the reasons for the program from the Church’s May 8 statement:

  • “To provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families, and to strength youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
  • “To help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”
  • “To allow local leaders, families, and even young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships, and supporting communities.”

While Scouting and other Church programs for children and youth worked well over the years in Utah and elsewhere throughout the United States, the Church found some didn’t fit well elsewhere in the world because of cultural, financial, distance, and membership reasons. The new initiative is one that is expected to be available globally and flexible enough to be adapted to local circumstances.

The initiative is to focus on setting and achieving goals for spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual development of children and youth, while at the same time reducing burdens on families.

Expect the initiative to foster several programs with different names. The initiative spans the two genders and age levels from 8 years to 17. The initiative and its programs will fall under the Church’s Primary, Young Women, and Young Men auxiliaries. The initiative is to focus on setting and achieving goals for spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual development of children and youth, while at the same time reducing burdens on families.

The new initiative will provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Is there a “pilot program” somewhere and can we get a sneak peek of what is planned?

The Church said components of the new initiative are being tested in different parts of the world.

There is an active website at childrenandyouth.lds.org, but the Church said more details on the initiative will be forthcoming as the January 1, 2020, implementation date approaches. For now, the only items available at the website are links to the Church’s statement, a combined Church-BSA statement, and a list of answers to frequently asked questions.

What do our children and youth do in the interim?

The Church asks children and youth to remain fully engaged in the existing Primary and youth programs.

The Church’s Scouting programs will continue to be chartered through December 31, 2019, for boys ages 8 through 13 and young men 14 and older working on their advancements. Camps, regular activities, and the annual Friends of Scouting campaign will continue until the end of 2019.

What do our adult leaders in Scouting, Cub Scouting, and Young Men and Young Women do in the interim?

Adult leaders in the Church’s current children and youth programs—including existing Scouting programs—are to continue to serve and associate with the youth.

Just like the youth, parents and adult leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation in and financial support of Scouting until the December 31, 2019, date.

Scouting leaders will be registered by the Church through its chartered units through the end of 2019. They are to continue in the Youth Protection and other required training for adult leaders.

The Church has updated its former Scouting Handbook manual for leaders; it is now called Scouting Guidelines and is available online. Sections deal with Scouting on the stake and ward levels and within the Primary organization as well as training and development information. Differences between Church policy and BSA policy are noted throughout.

We’re a Scouting family and want to continue involvement—what are our options after the changes?

Individuals and families wanting to continue their participation and advancement in Scouting after December 31, 2019, will need to register with other BSA-chartered organizations, such as those sponsored by schools, other churches, or other community groups.

A young man helps construct a wheelchair ramp. Service will be an important and continuing component of the new initiative.