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Children and Youth Life Skills


Since 1994, Human Service Research, Inc. (HSR) has partnered with state and federal governments, universities, extension programs, and non-profits in building tools to help strengthen communities, programs, teams, and individuals improve the lives of children and youth. Through this process several assessment and facilitation tools were developed. These tools were designed to collect information and help facilitate conversations at many levels that range from vision and purpose to individual changes of children and youth on life skills. Currently The Youth Life Skills Dashboard is available for parents, teachers, and others interested in learning about life skills with their child/children and youth.

The tools can be used to assess strengths and weaknesses of life skills, generate information for conversations that may range from one on one discussions (teacher/parent with child/youth) to program staff using the information for program development and improvement, and, possibly, show change through evaluation. HSR developed one of the first on-line interactive programs for children (ERIKA) and youth (SAMANTHA) assessing life skills using cartoon characters, audio, and scenarios focusing on decision making, critical thinking, caring, personal values and social conscience. In addition, questionnaires (the outer ring of Life Skills Tools) are available that address sub-areas of the life skill areas (see Resources for questions and sub-areas). One of the first questions is to decide what tool is best for your purpose and your audience. We suggest you use your lesson plans and activities as a starting point for assessing best fit. A Journal of Extension article called The Effects of Age, Gender, and 4-H Involvement on Life Skill Development may be helpful, especially Table 3. Total Life Skills Mean Change Score by Project Areas. Parents may just want to have their child run the demonstration and talk to them about it. If parents do want to track for what ever purpose, just register. Families can set up multiple children to track if they desire.

Tools and Logging-in

A Log-in is required to use the tools in order to protect information. Data and reports are specific to each log-in. People may choose to use paper forms that may be created from the survey questions in Resources. If you do, please cite Human Service Research, Inc. as source for reports, publications, or proposals. You may wish to view the parent video for Samantha for an overview. Demonstration of ERIKA and SAMANTHA with no data collected can be accessed by clicking the links below. Note that each internet browser will be slightly different. For example, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge will play the audios automatically while Safari and Firefox may require manual clicking on the play button.

Click on the image below to play parent video.

Click below for ERIKA Demonstration

Click below for SAMANTHA Demonstration


At this time this site is free as long as funds allow. Customization is available at a cost. The main purpose of the registration is to set up a username and password that will help protect your data (keeping it confidential) and give you the ability to monitor and analyze your own data. We will require a contact person, email address, and information about your program/project/purpose. HSR will protect your data and only use it for research purposes to better understand the tools and possibly improve them in the future. HSR has collected information since 1994 from runaway and homeless youth, pregnant and parenting teens, homeless youth, juvenile deliquents, afterschool youth, 4-H, and more where have always protected the information. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss.

Contact Us

For assistance in using the website, the tools, or results contact Dr. Bruce E. Haas, President of Human Service Research, Inc. (HSR) at hsr@humanserviceresearch.com