Youth Leadership Exchange Program Grant

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Student/Youth Exchange, Cultural Education, Youth Leadership, Youth Development, Civic Engagement
Deadline:
Feb. 13, 2020

“The On-Demand Youth Leadership Program supports U.S. foreign policy goals by empowering the U.S. Department of State to respond quickly to evolving priorities. U.S. public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to implement two separate three-week exchanges in the United States. Applicants may submit only one proposal under this competition. If multiple proposals are received from the same applicant, all submissions will be declared ineligible and receive no further consideration in the review process. Proposals should illustrate the organization’s extent of experience working in different regions of the world, demonstrating flexibility and originality in programming. Proposals should include actual examples in which the organization has responded quickly to fast changing circumstances in a region or country where they had not previously worked.

The On-Demand Youth Leadership Program provides exchanges in the United States for international high school students ages 15-18 and adult educators or community leaders from countries and regions identified as U.S. Department of State 2 priorities. Exchange activities will focus on civic education, community service, respect for diversity, and youth leadership development. Secondary themes on issues of global or regional relevance may be added by the embassy. Applicants must indicate their capacity to program an exchange at varying points during the award period. Participants will engage in a variety of activities such as workshops on leadership and service, community site visits related to program themes and subthemes, interactive training and discussion groups, presentations, visits to high schools, local cultural activities, homestays, and other activities designed to achieve the program’s stated goals. The exchanges must include multiple opportunities for participants to interact meaningfully with their American peers. Follow-on activities with the participants are an essential part of the program, and the exchange activities should prepare participants to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired by planning action projects in their home communities.”

Funder: Bureau Of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Eligibility:
Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education), private institutions of higher education, public and state controlled institutions of higher education, others.
Amount:
Up to $1,200,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Youth Leadership Exchange Program Grant appeared first on Youth Today.


CO Disadvantaged Youth OST Physical Activity Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Child/Youth Health, Physical Activity, OST, Youth Sports, Low-Income Youth
Deadline:
Feb. 15, 2020  | June 15, 2020

“This funding opportunity will support organizations to provide quality, structured physical activity in out-of-school time settings (including before school, after school and summer programs) to children and youth ages 4 to 18 through safe and affordable programs. We will consider proposals for up to two years of funding. Proposed projects must reflect the Foundation’s cornerstones, as our work is grounded in serving Coloradans who have low income and historically have had less power or privilege, putting the creation of health equity at the center of everything we do, and being informed by the community and those we exist to serve.

Programs must:

  • Primarily serve children and youth where opportunities for physical activity may be absent or harder to access. Preference will be given to programs in rural communities.
  • Primarily serve children and youth living on low income; we will consider percentages of children eligible for free and reduced lunch (FRL) that are served by the program, average family income of participants or other indicators your organization may use to determine need.
  • Primarily serve children and youth ages 4 to 14. We will consider programs that serve youth up to 18 years of age.
  • Engage participants in a total of at least 90 minutes of structured physical activity per week, for no less than two days per week, for a minimum of six weeks. Children must be engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a minimum of 50% of the structured physical activity time.
  • Ensure physical activity is structured (organized or guided activity led or facilitated by a program staff person, qualified volunteer or qualified partner organization). A curriculum is welcomed but not required. If an organization is not using a curriculum, a practical plan or outline must be submitted demonstrating how the organization will ensure engagement in high quality, structured physical activity (not free time on playground or in the gym).
  • Implement activities that are relevant and appropriate for the needs and interests of the children and youth served, including cultural and linguistic responsiveness. Youth engagement processes, community needs assessments, satisfaction surveys, existing participation data or similar methods will be used to assess demonstrated interest and demand for the activities.
  • Demonstrate strong relationships and experience working within the community or communities served.
  • Demonstrate sufficient organization and staff capacity and training to effectively implement and sustain the proposed activities.
  • Have an effective method to track the amount of time dedicated to structured physical activity and the number of children engaging in those activities on a consistent basis.”

Funder: Colorado Health Foundation
Eligibility:
“Generally, we make grants to the following types of organizations: [1] Colorado organizations classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3), and [2] Colorado public agencies, including state and local governments. Organizations eligible to apply include those that:

  • Currently operate an established out-of-school-time program (before school, after school or summer program) with a structured physical activity component for children and youth ages 4 to 18. In this case, funds may be requested to maintain or enhance existing structured physical activity components.
  • Currently operate an established out-of-school-time program (before school, after school or summer program) but do not have a structured physical activity component. Funds may be requested to incorporate structured physical activity as a new component of an existing out-of-school time program for children and youth ages 4 to 18.
  • Are starting up a new out-of-school-time program in a rural or frontier county (contact the program officer about eligibility) where few or no out-of-school-time programs exist. Funds may be requested for startup or pilot phase programs. Such programs must include a structured physical activity component for children and youth ages 4 to 18.”

Amount: Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post CO Disadvantaged Youth OST Physical Activity Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity Expansion for Adult and Family Courts Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Child/Youth Health, Child/Youth Welfare, Family, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Deadline:
Feb. 3, 2020

“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2020 Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult Treatment Drug Courts (ATDC), Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts or Family Treatment Drug Courts (FTDC). The purpose of this program is to expand substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services in existing drug courts. The program recognizes the need for treatment instead of incarceration for individuals with SUDs.

Recipients will be expected to provide a coordinated, multi-system approach designed to combine the sanctioning power of treatment drug courts with effective SUD treatment services to break the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and/or drug use, and incarceration or other penalties. Family drug court applicants will be expected to do the same with an added focus on family preservation and promoting the wellness of the family.”

Funder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Eligibility:
“Eligible applicants are state, local, and tribal governments with direct involvement with the adult treatment drug court, adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Court or family drug court, such as:

  • State governments; the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are also eligible to apply.
  • Governmental units within political subdivisions of a state, such as a county, city or town, and individual adult treatment drug courts.
  • Federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes, tribal organizations, Urban Indian Organizations, and consortia of tribes or tribal organizations.”

Amount: Up to $400,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity Expansion for Adult and Family Courts Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Community and Environment Enhancement, Education and Engagement Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Community, Environmental Education, Environment, Civic Engagement
Deadline:
Feb. 1, 2020 (LOI)

“New Earth Foundation (NEF) seeks to fund innovative projects that enhance life on our planet and brighten the future, furthering peace. The grants given by NEF support a wide variety of projects in many fields of endeavor, including but not limited to environmental initiatives that are working to help eliminate pollution and to save the planet’s ecosystems, community efforts that create models of social sustainability, educational innovations that prepare youth to become the socially responsible leaders of the future, and strategies that offer economic improvement and opportunities. NEF particularly appreciates projects that are replicable so that excellent ideas and work can multiply and benefit many.”

Funder: New Earth Foundation
Eligibility:
Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. NEF has a particular interest in supporting smaller, newer organizations.
Amount:
Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Community and Environment Enhancement, Education and Engagement Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Simulations show thousands of lakes in Himalaya Mountains at risk of flooding due to global warming

Three researchers with the University of Potsdam report that thousands of natural lakes in the Himalayas are at risk of bursting their moraines due to global warming and causing flooding downriver. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Georg Veh, Oliver Korup and Ariane Walz describe simulations they ran on lake models and what they showed.

OR Community Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Community, Community Development, Arts/Culture, Education, Health, Well-Being, Environment
Deadline:
Jan. 15, 2020

“Our mission is to improve the lives of all Oregonians through the power of philanthropy. As a statewide community foundation we work alongside donors, stewarding their priorities into strategic giving to support diverse communities across Oregon, creating lasting, transformative change. This is OCF’s largest, broadest and most accessible grant program.  Each year, hundreds of nonprofits from every corner of the state submit applications… We invest in long term solutions to support critical and evolving needs of diverse, thriving communities.

Impact Areas: Arts & Culture, Economic and Community Vitality, Community Engagement, Education, Health & Well-Being, Homelessness & Housing, Land & Nature.”

Funder: Oregon Community Foundation (OCF)
Eligibility:
“Must have 501(c)(3) status as a public charity (not a private foundation), be a public entity, or have a qualified fiscal sponsor.”
Amount:
$5,000 – $50,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post OR Community Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


North Atlantic Current may cease temporarily in the next century

The North Atlantic Current transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico towards Europe, providing much of north-western Europe with a relatively mild climate. However, scientists suspect that meltwater from Greenland and excessive rainfall could interfere with this ocean current. Simulations by scientists from the University of Groningen and Utrecht University showed that it is unlikely that the current will come to a complete stop, due to small and rapid changes in precipitation over the North Atlantic. However, there is a 15 percent likelihood that there will be a temporary change in the current in the next 100 years. The results were published on 30 December in the journal Scientific Reports.

College Student Campus Healthcare Access Program Grant

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Youth Health, Healthcare Access, Student Well-Being, Higher Education, Campus Health
Deadline:
Feb. 1, 2020

“Gallagher Koster has established through the American College Health Foundation the Gallagher Koster Innovative Practices in College Health Fund. The purpose of this fund is to provide financial support to student health centers and their staff for the development of innovative practices that improve access to quality health care for students. This funding opportunity supports the development of creative solutions to improve access to quality health care for all students. The goal of this funding program is to spawn new ideas and innovative practices that improve students’ access to health care and to share these strategies with other college health care professionals via presentations at state, regional, and national conferences, and publications in college health related periodicals.”

Funder: American College Health Foundation
Eligibility:
“American College Health Association institutional or individual members are eligible to apply for this funding opportunity. Applicants are encouraged to put together project proposals that develop or utilize partnerships on their campuses and that demonstrate internal financial and in-kind support.”
Amount:
$3,500
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post College Student Campus Healthcare Access Program Grant appeared first on Youth Today.


Provider In Las Cruces, NM, Left Stretched Thin After 2013 Ruling

foster care: children's hands on the misted window

Amir Bajrich/Shutterstock

.

Jolene Martinez of Las Cruces couldn’t be more thrilled to be an adoptive parent to a second foster child, who she adopted weeks before Thanksgiving. “The joy for our family is being able to fulfill what we believe in, and that’s to help a child that might not be able to have permanency otherwise,” she said.

But for many foster and adoptive families in the state, there are lows with the highs as well as extraordinary challenges. New Mexico children aren’t just one of the state’s most vulnerable populations, they’re also one of the nation’s most challenged groups. In 2017 and 2018, New Mexico ranked 50th nationwide in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report.

The overburdened and understaffed Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) is often placed at the center of the blame game for New Mexico’s dismal child well-being outcomes, but there are complex and systemic issues, such as generational poverty and a drought of behavioral health services, that contribute to New Mexico’s splintered foster care and child welfare systems.  

Martinez, a former CYFD caseworker, is also the clinical director of the Las Cruces-based Families and Youth, Inc. (FYI), which provides preventive, intervention and treatment services to children and families in a range of settings, such as health care, child welfare, mental illness and emergency shelter. During her tenure in the field, she’s witnessed families and children struggle under a bulky accumulation of complicated and entangled issues.  

“Historically, it’s not uncommon to see a family struggling with poverty and substance abuse, but now you’re seeing poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, complex trauma and long family histories of abuse and neglect piled on top of each other,” Martinez said. “The substance abuse problem has also gotten much more complex than it was in the ’80s and ’90s.”

As a result, a youth in care can be dealing with a host of challenges. Foster parents are initially trained to help a child through the ordeals that are front and center. But then the child’s needs pivot, and adoptive families are often left to try to figure out solutions by themselves due to a deficit of post-adoption services, Martinez said.

“We might adopt a child at age 10 and their mental health needs change at 12, 14 or 16. A lot of us are left to navigate that system alone,” Martinez said, adding New Mexico is also short on respite foster care, where one foster family temporarily cares for another family’s foster youth in order to give the child’s original foster family a short-term break.

‘Surrendering services’

Doña Ana County has been hard hit by the repercussions of former Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2013 decision to choke off Medicaid funding for 15 of the state’s private behavioral health providers, she said, which resulted in many mental health services closing up shop.

“There was chaos,” Martinez said. “A lot of families lost their providers and their services. It has changed the economic landscape of behavioral health. A lot of the providers that used to work in community mental health centers were driven to private practice so families are still having difficulty with one coordinated system of care.

“We’re trying to rebuild the community mental health model where a family can come to our agency and receive services in one space as an adult and as a youth,” she said. “It has been both a user issue and also a workforce issue … it’s difficult to recruit therapists in an environment where a lot of these individuals are working for themselves.”

[Related: New Mexicans See Foster Care Challenges, But Are Encouraged by Changes]

[Related: In Santa Fe, NM, ‘We’re Not Going to Play the Blame Game’]

[Related: Lack of Affordable Housing, Enough Foster Families Hurt Taos, NM, Area]

[Related: Carlsbad, NM, Oil Windfall Makes It Harder to Keep Caseworkers]

The lack of services and funding in the state has systematically impacted FYI, which serves far-flung areas such as Truth or Consequences, Deming and Sunland Park. Martinez estimates that FYI used to assist at least 50 to 60 families in Doña Ana County. In 2018, it dwindled to 15 to 20 families, with the remainder of FYI’s stretched-thin services dispersed to places like Socorro and Alamogordo.

“Instead of making a more global impact in one area, we’re making these micro impacts in these communities, which leaves an area like Doña Ana County really underserved,” Martinez said. In fiscal year 2019, nearly 12% of CYFD’s central intake reports of abuse and neglect came from Doña Ana County, the second highest number in New Mexico behind Bernalillo County, according to CYFD’s 360 Annual Report

“We’re surrendering services in a big population to serve a community like Sierra County, where [the referral rate] is less than 1%, or Alamogordo, where it’s less than 6%,” she said. “They still need services because these communities are also depleted, but it leaves a community like Doña Ana County exposed.”

As state officials attempt to reform child well-being — lawmakers created a new Early Childhood Education and Care Department during the 2019 Legislature — Martinez says she’ll continue doing the best she can for her children.

“Adoption, even though we celebrate it, is really a tragedy of the system. For my children, I would’ve hoped they lived safely with their birth parents,” she said. “Even though they can’t, we’re going to move forward with resiliency for them.”

This story is part of a Youth Today project on foster care in New Mexico. It’s made possible in part by the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post Provider In Las Cruces, NM, Left Stretched Thin After 2013 Ruling appeared first on Youth Today.


New Mexicans See Foster Care Challenges, But Are Encouraged by Changes

New Mexico: Little boy wearing a jacket crying

Piqsels

.

Jordan, a teenaged foster youth, has lost count of all the places she’s lived in the state, including the streets of New Mexico, off and on since 2016. 

“I was going to get adopted, but it didn’t happen. If you don’t get adopted, people just think you’re a mess with all kinds of problems. They just throw us in a group home and then either we age out or we move. To me, that’s how it is,” said Jordan, 17, who asked to go by a pseudonym for this story.

She became homeless because none of her New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) foster care placements worked out, she said. She sought help from an outside organization, but there aren’t many in New Mexico, which also lacks enough basic housing and health care services for the state’s most vulnerable populations. While she was in and out of homelessness, Jordan gave birth twice, but the children were later taken away by CYFD, shattering her tenuous existence.

It’s tough to be a youth — foster or otherwise — in New Mexico. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report, which measures child well-being indicators such as child poverty rates, reading proficiency, substance abuse and teen birth rates, ranked the state dead last in the country for overall child well-being in 2017 and 2018. At the same time, the state’s child abuse rate steadily climbed and currently hovers at nearly twice the national average.

Critics say that CYFD, the state’s child protective services agency, actually makes life harder for New Mexico’s youth in care. (As of June 2019, there were 2,380 children in foster care, according to CFYD’s 360 Quarterly Report.) 

A blistering federal lawsuit against CYFD filed by Disability Rights New Mexico and the Native American Disability Law Center says New Mexico’s emotionally shattered, and sometimes physically battered, foster youth are systematically retraumatized in a poorly designed system that’s ill-equipped to rehabilitate them. 

“New Mexico’s broken system of child welfare fails to provide the stability and support that children in state custody need to be safe and healthy, locking New Mexico’s foster children into a vicious cycle of declining physical, mental, and behavioral health, and increasingly inappropriate, restrictive, and punitive placements and treatment,” the lawsuit says.

Jolene Martinez, clinical director of the Las Cruces-based Families and Youth, Inc. (FYI), points out that many New Mexico families aren’t socioeconomically stable enough to care for a foster youth, due to a paucity of state services. 

“We’re asking families that are already under-resourced themselves to be resources for children,” said Martinez, who’s also a foster parent to two children. “I think that’s an extraordinary ask for the average New Mexican to take on the needs of another child, and not just any child but a child with complex needs.”

New state laws

Despite a troubled track record with child well-being, a change for the better may be emerging. 

During the 2019 New Mexico legislative session, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a number of robust child well-being laws that legislators hope will reform foster care. In a June keynote speech during the Kids Count Conference in Albuquerque, she said she hasn’t been able to sleep since learning that CYFD staff is overwhelmed and unable to investigate “hundreds” of referrals for child abuse and neglect allegations. CYFD has also been hampered by a dearth of qualified social workers, a lack of adoptive families and a number of child abuse cases, according to court filings from several cases.

CYFD public information officer Melody Wells says the agency has made great strides since Brian Blalock, the Cabinet secretary for CYFD, came onboard in January 2019. “I’ve never heard of or seen a new administration come in and make so many large-scale changes that are actually affecting positive change so quickly,” she said. One of CYFD’s main focus areas is increasing the amount of caseworkers, she said. 

Over the coming months, Youth Today will take a comprehensive look at the challenges of New Mexico’s foster youth and families as well as state organizations, such as CYFD, the Human Services Department and the Public Education Department, whose job is to keep statewide youth in care safe and thriving. 

New Mexico: Smiling woman in blue suit in front of flags

National Governors Association

Former Gov. Susana Martinez

The series will also analyze recent state-level statutory changes as well as proposed future legislation that may be able to keep New Mexico’s kids shielded from the juvenile justice system. It will also look into the downstream impacts of former Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2013 decision to stanch Medicaid funding to private mental health providers, which disrupted life-saving services for countless New Mexicans.

For now, disturbing child abuse cases continue to cast a dark pall over the state. Perhaps the most notorious incident — Victoria Martens, the 10-year-old Albuquerque girl who was raped, burned, dismembered and found dead inside a bathtub in August 2016 — recently thrust itself into the news cycle when Fabian Gonzales, one of the original murder suspects, was released from jail on Nov. 19. 

Before the gruesome crime, CYFD had received at least four calls about the safety of Victoria and her brother but were unable to substantiate the charges. A CYFD internal review concluded that investigators were “thorough and complete” and that staff members upheld “state statute and agency policy and procedure.”

“I’ve never blamed CYFD for the horrific crimes that have happened with children. I have blamed things like generational poverty and hunger and unemployment rates and how we look at Native populations,” said state Sen. Michael Padilla, who knows the state foster care system on a personal level — he was in it from 6 months of age to 14. “But now I’m very encouraged by where things are going. However, we have a long way to go. A long way to go.”

‘The Crisis Department’

When Kevin S. was a kid, his mother’s partners sexually and physically abused the boy on a regular basis, according to court documents in the lawsuit against CYFD. In 2009, he entered the foster care system, where he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges. Instead of helping the Bernalillo County teenager, CYFD exacerbated Kevin S.’s trauma, the suit charges.

CYFD hasn’t come close to giving Kevin S., who dreams of attending college to play basketball or football, a stable foundation, the 95-page complaint says. The Latino teenager spent two nights in a CYFD office but ran away and was later found ducking in and out of traffic. He was sent to a Colorado residential treatment center, where he suffered physical and emotional torment by the staff and the other foster care residents, the complaint says.

Additionally, the lawsuit blames former CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson and then-Human Services Department Secretary Brent Earnest, who were both Gov. Martinez appointees, for violating five federal laws, including the American Disabilities Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Human Services Department receives approximately $7.1 billion in federal and state funds to administer over a dozen programs, such as Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to more than 900,000 low-income New Mexicans.

[Related: In Santa Fe, NM, ‘We’re not going to play the blame game’]

[Related: Lack of Affordable Housing, Enough Foster Families Hurt Taos, NM, Area]

[Related: Provider In Las Cruces, NM, Left Stretched Thin]

[Related: Carlsbad, NM, Oil Windfall Makes It Harder to Keep Caseworkers]

CYFD, which includes protective services and juvenile justice services divisions, is meant to protect the welfare of New Mexico’s kids and families. (CYFD’s early childhood services division is scheduled to transition to a new state Early Childhood Education and Care Department by July 2020.) 

New Mexico: Man in suit seated at table raises his right hand. The sign Sen. Michael Padilla is in front of him.

Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

State Sen. Michael Padilla, shown here during the 2019 legislative session, was in the state foster care system until he was 14. He still keeps in touch with his former caseworker.

However, the embattled organization, which is operating under a fiscal year 2020 budget of approximately $582 million, has morphed into something entirely different, Padilla said.

“I believe CYFD had good intentions when it was created, but now it’s simply too large and unruly,” he said. “It’s basically the crisis department in my opinion.”

Frozen funds = fewer providers

A 2017 report by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that the state’s rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect — 17.6 victims per 1,000 children — is nearly twice the national average of 9.1 children. Only Kentucky, Massachusetts and Indiana eclipsed New Mexico’s child abuse rate.

While critics are often quick to point the finger at CYFD for the state’s dismal child well-being outcomes, the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children says it has pinpointed another reason for the escalating child abuse rate, one that appears to be out of CYFD’s control.

In 2013, then-Gov. Martinez claimed that 15 private mental health providers committed fraud and promptly froze their Medicaid funding. Three years later, the state Attorney General’s Office couldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing, but not before many of these providers were forced to fold. 

The void has capsized the lives of vulnerable New Mexicans, especially in regions such as southern New Mexico, Martinez of FYI said. Since there isn’t a psychiatric hospital in Doña Ana County, Las Cruces area residents with long-term behavioral challenges are forced to seek support at a Texas state mental hospital in El Paso. 

“As the mental health services were basically taken away from families and adults and parents who really needed them, there was a corresponding decrease in their ability to handle life and parenting in a way that’s healthy for their kids,” said Amber Wallin, deputy director at New Mexico Voices in Albuquerque. “We believe that’s part of the reason we saw an increase in the child abuse rate at that same time. Otherwise, it was improving across the country at the same time.”

System Reforms

Among the pieces of child well-being legislation Grisham signed during the 2019 legislative session was the Padilla-sponsored Early Childhood Education and Care Department Act. The brand-new cabinet department grabs several of the state’s early childhood development programs, including CYFD’s early childhood services division, and places prenatal-to-age-5 services under a new centralized clearinghouse.

The state legislature also extended foster care services from age 18 to 21, expanded eligibility of a 2014 statute that waives tuition costs for state foster youth attending New Mexico’s post-secondary institutions and passed a law that gives youth in care partial earned credits if they transfer from one secondary school to another.

Additionally, funds from the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), introduced by a number of members of the U.S. Congress, including New Mexico Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland, became available Oct. 1. The bipartisan child welfare reform statute allows states and tribes to direct federal money to family and child well-being services in order to try to keep kids with their families. In decades past, these types of federal dollars were only available after a child was removed from their family.

A number of state lawmakers and child advocacy organizations are also encouraged by Blalock’s quick-acting reforms. Wells of CYFD says the organization recently began a program that gives employees a stipend for a social work degree and created an information portal that helps Albuquerque Police Department officers when they’re responding to a domestic dispute call involving a child. 

Additionally, CYFD recently got a grant from the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners to establish the state’s only safe house for young victims of human trafficking. 

“Foster youth are much more targeted by traffickers, who are savvy and know how to watch for young people that don’t feel connected to adults in a healthy way, as well as young people who are used to abuse and neglect,” Wells said.  

Despite systemic challenges, Padilla is encouraged that the state’s foster care system is heading toward a healthier incarnation. He’d like to see closer controls and relationships between case workers and foster children, much like what he experienced as a foster youth. Padilla, 46, was an infant when his case worker, who’s now 84, came into Padilla’s life. The two still keep in touch.

“I remember how he would pick us up in his green truck and take us to get ice cream and ask us questions and work with us. We would see him regularly and I’ve known him this whole time,” Padilla said. “I stop in and check on him. He’s a really good human being. He was probably one of the best male role models I had as a child.”

Jordan says she eventually jumped through all of CYFD’s hoops to gain custody of her children. Though she’s back on her feet, one minor catastrophe could send her life spiraling out of control for the umpteenth time. For now, an optimistic Jordan is focused on attaining a GED so that she can work, provide for her family and avoid a return to the streets.

“From what I’ve been through, I actually feel like it was a good thing because it made me even stronger and makes me a better mom,” she said. “I don’t want to put my kids in that situation.”

This story is part of a Youth Today project on foster care in New Mexico. It’s made possible in part by the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post New Mexicans See Foster Care Challenges, But Are Encouraged by Changes appeared first on Youth Today.


Lack of Affordable Housing, Enough Foster Families Hurt Taos, NM, Area

Taos: View northerly from Taos Plaza toward Taos Mountain, from NASA World Wind.

Wikipedia

.

It’s November 2019, and the hysteria from the emergency meeting in 2013 is still palpable for Yasmin Haque. After then-New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez made the call to suspend Medicaid reimbursements to 15 statewide private behavioral health service providers, panicked Taos community members gathered at the former Casa de Corazón.

“Everyone was shell-shocked. We all wondered what we were going to do with these families,” said Haque, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer coordinator at Taos-based child advocacy group Youth Heartline. “It was devastating. I would say we’re still struggling to recover.”

The Medicaid-funded Tri-County Community Services, which delivered key mental health and addiction counseling services to vulnerable populations in Taos, Colfax and Union counties, held on for as long as possible before shuttering in August 2018.

“Kids that had [behavioral management specialist] workers were suddenly gone and here were all of these new people and services coming in from Arizona,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of change in terms of therapeutic services and I think it’s slowly getting built back up, but it’s a long way away.” 

Critics say that Martinez’s accusations of fraud and Medicaid overbilling against private mental health providers, which the state Attorney General’s Office couldn’t substantiate, pulverized the state’s already broken child welfare and foster care systems, with helpless children bearing the brunt of the negative effects. According to a 2017 report by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state’s child abuse rate started to gradually rise in 2014, and hit a record high of 25 kids per 1,000 children in 2017, nearly twice the national average.

Overall, New Mexico is failing its children. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report, which aggregates a number of state trends in child well-being, ranging from child poverty and health insurance rates to math and reading proficiencies, ranked the state last in the country in overall child well-being in 2017 and 2018. 

Scarcities

The local CASA program suffers from a lack of volunteers — “we have 16 between all three counties, and I’m being generous when I say that,” said Haque. As of June 2019, there were 56 youth in care in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties, according to a quarterly report published by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department

Youth Heartline cares for abused and neglected children in Taos, Colfax and Union counties, and recruits and trains volunteers to be advocates for a youth in care in children’s court. The Taos and Raton branches of CASA, a national agency headquartered in Seattle, provides support for foster youth in the state’s Eighth Judicial District.

Additionally, youth in care in the three area counties are acutely challenged by a shortage of foster families and a scarcity of affordable places to live. “An inquiry we get all the time is about housing. We’re not equipped to offer that service because there isn’t any housing,” Haque said. “It’s unfortunate because if you don’t have housing, how are you going to get your children back from CYFD?”

CYFD’s child protective services division, as of June 2019, cared for 2,380 youth across the state. Overworked and understaffed, it tries to protect vulnerable kids. According to several court filings, it instead re-traumatizes endangered children who are in state care. But lawmakers and child advocacy groups are encouraged by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s edict to safeguard New Mexico youth from further woes. In January, she appointed Brian Blalock to CYFD cabinet secretary, giving him the job of reforming the foster care system.

[Related: New Mexicans See Foster Care Challenges, But Are Encouraged by Changes]

[Related: In Santa Fe, NM, ‘We’re Not Going to Play the Blame Game’]

[Related: Provider In Las Cruces, NM, Left Stretched Thin After 2013 Ruling]

[Related: Carlsbad, NM, Oil Windfall Makes It Harder to Keep Caseworkers]

At the same time, state lawmakers took Grisham’s directive and passed several foster care improvements during the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, including extending the eligibility for foster care services from age 18 to 21 and giving youth in care partial earned transfer credits if they move from school to school.  

Haque remains concerned for kids who require specialized behavioral health services, especially because most educators aren’t trained to help children with complex trauma. 

“That’s a huge thing because we have some children who have really struggled in the classroom,” she said. “We just had a very recent case where a child needs support 24/7 and there isn’t any.” She also sees a local need for supplementary adult protective services, especially for people who battle cognitive issues.

Despite the multifaceted challenges, Haque says that Youth Heartline’s CASA team is able to help youth in care due to healthy relationships with children’s lawyers, respondent attorneys and with Eighth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Emilio Chavez.

“He takes the time with the families to explain what’s going on because it’s very complicated and very scary,” Haque said. “They’re at the worst times in their lives because you’ve had a child removed and it’s very overwhelming. He’s very patient and encouraging and takes the time to explain the process.

“I think what’s really great about Taos is the approach,” Haque said. “We’re a team and we’re here to help families. We’re not trying to be punitive. It’s about supporting and helping the families to get the best outcomes for these kids and their families.”

This story is part of a Youth Today project on foster care in New Mexico. It’s made possible in part by the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post Lack of Affordable Housing, Enough Foster Families Hurt Taos, NM, Area appeared first on Youth Today.


Disadvantaged College Student Support Services Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Higher Education, Low-Income/Disadvantaged Students, Foster/Homeless Youth, Students w/ Disabilities
Deadline:
Jan. 27, 2020

“The purpose of the Student Support Services (SSS) Program is to increase the number of disadvantaged, low-income college students, first-generation college students, and college students with disabilities in the United States who successfully complete a program of study at the postsecondary level. The support services that are provided should increase the retention and graduation rates for these categories of students and facilitate their transfer from two-year to four-year colleges and universities. The support services should also foster an institutional climate that supports the success of students who are limited English proficient, students from groups that are historically underrepresented in postsecondary education, students with disabilities, students who are homeless children and youths, students who are in foster care or are aging out of the foster care system, and other disconnected students. Student support services should also improve the financial and economic literacy of students.”

Funder: Department of Education
Eligibility:
Private institutions of higher education, public and state controlled institutions of higher education, others.
Amount:
Up to $253,032
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Disadvantaged College Student Support Services Grants appeared first on Youth Today.