Homeless Youth National Communication System 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: Homeless/Runaway Youth, Youth Services, Youth Welfare, Safety
Deadline:
May 13, 2020

“The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) will award one cooperative agreement on a competitive basis for a period of three years to operate the Runaway and Homeless Youth National Communication System (NCS) Program.

The NCS Program is a dedicated toll-free, U.S. national communication system that provides information, referral services, crisis intervention, prevention approaches, and communication services to vulnerable, at-risk, and runaway and homeless youth and their families or legal guardians. The purpose of the NCS is to a) prevent youth from running away and becoming homeless, and b) link youth with a family member or guardian, and/or an available resource that can provide and/or assist the youth in acquiring needed services.

To fulfill the objectives of the legislation, the NCS must provide, among other services, a neutral and confidential channel of communication that is available on a 24-hours per day, seven days per week, basis throughout the United States so that youth contemplating running away and runaway and homeless youth may re-establish contact with their parents or legal guardians if possible. The NCS Program is also expected to work closely and collaboratively with FYSB to fulfill its mission as the federally funded communication system for runaway and homeless youth.”

Funder: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB)
Eligibility:
“Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education), Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education), public and state controlled institutions of higher education, City or township governments, Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities, County governments, State governments, Independent school districts, Special district governments, Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments), Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized), others. In addition, public (state and local) and private non-profit entities, and coordinated networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the juvenile justice system.”
Amount:
$1,000,000 – $1,600,000
Contact:
Link.


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

The post Homeless Youth National Communication System Program Grant appeared first on Youth Today.


Homeless Youth National Communication System 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: Homeless/Runaway Youth, Youth Services, Youth Welfare, Safety
Deadline:
May 13, 2020

“The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) will award one cooperative agreement on a competitive basis for a period of three years to operate the Runaway and Homeless Youth National Communication System (NCS) Program.

The NCS Program is a dedicated toll-free, U.S. national communication system that provides information, referral services, crisis intervention, prevention approaches, and communication services to vulnerable, at-risk, and runaway and homeless youth and their families or legal guardians. The purpose of the NCS is to a) prevent youth from running away and becoming homeless, and b) link youth with a family member or guardian, and/or an available resource that can provide and/or assist the youth in acquiring needed services.

To fulfill the objectives of the legislation, the NCS must provide, among other services, a neutral and confidential channel of communication that is available on a 24-hours per day, seven days per week, basis throughout the United States so that youth contemplating running away and runaway and homeless youth may re-establish contact with their parents or legal guardians if possible. The NCS Program is also expected to work closely and collaboratively with FYSB to fulfill its mission as the federally funded communication system for runaway and homeless youth.”

Funder: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB)
Eligibility:
“Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education), Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (other than institutions of higher education), public and state controlled institutions of higher education, City or township governments, Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities, County governments, State governments, Independent school districts, Special district governments, Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments), Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized), others. In addition, public (state and local) and private non-profit entities, and coordinated networks of such entities, are eligible to apply for a Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grant unless they are part of the juvenile justice system.”
Amount:
$1,000,000 – $1,600,000
Contact:
Link.


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

The post Homeless Youth National Communication System Program Grant appeared first on Youth Today.


Child Welfare’s Response to COVID-19 Is Sickening

foster care: A young baby having a fit on the ground crying.

LittleDogKorat/Shutterstock

.

All over America, there are people who can’t stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some always knew their jobs carried risks: Doctors and nurses, police and firefighters, and, yes, child protective services caseworkers. Others were, in effect, drafted into the fight: Letter carriers, pharmacists, truck drivers and all those people stocking shelves and running cash registers at grocery stores. And then there are the people who simply volunteer — like those delivering meals to the elderly.

But while so many others are stepping up, some foster parents in New Mexico and Kentucky are whining because they can’t step away. They’re complaining because — at least for now — they are not allowed to cut their foster children off from all in-person visits with their own families.

Worse, these states may soon be an exception. Other states and localities have, in fact, cut off in-person visits between foster children and their families — and even their siblings in separate foster homes. Many court systems, while continuing to hold hearings to rubber-stamp taking children away from their parents, have shut down hearings to send them home again — so foster children will not only be further isolated from their own families, the isolation will be prolonged.

And when former foster youth Sixto Cancel organized a webinar for foster youth so they could hear how agencies would respond to their needs, almost all the questions came from public and private child welfare agencies — and none of their questions was about the needs of the kids. They were all about how many requirements the agencies could be excused from meeting — and, of course, how they will be paid. There was so much naked self-interest on display I’m surprised the whole event wasn’t busted by the vice squad.

No questioner from the agencies expressed concern about canceled visits or delays in reunification. Instead, Jerry Milner, who runs the Children’s Bureau in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and was there to answer the questions, had to raise those concerns himself.

I’m sure there are individual foster parents who are extending themselves heroically to keep foster children in touch with their families. There are caseworkers putting themselves at risk both to investigate actual child abuse and to help families stay together when their poverty is confused with neglect. As always, the bad news gets the attention.

But the predominant institutional response of child welfare systems reveals greed, fear and selfishness. All sorts of other businesses are donating to help fight COVID-19 — including breweries converting their production lines to make hand sanitizer and already hard-hit restaurants donating meals. They say the same thing: We help now; we’ll figure out the money later. But not child welfare. 

In short, child welfare’s response to COVID-19 is sickening. Yes, there are serious and real concerns about spreading the virus. But with some guts and imagination, child welfare can cope without doing further harm to vulnerable children. Their failure to be creative doesn’t just do emotional harm to foster children — it risks increasing the spread of COVID-19 itself.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

All this is simply one more manifestation of how child welfare really views families: essentially subhuman. The message is clear: Why should we sacrifice ourselves for those rotten, no-good parents? After all, look what they did to their kids.

You can hear it in the words of those New Mexico foster parents, who were showcased in a story from Searchlight New Mexico:

“I’ve cleaned my house, I’ve canceled all activities, I’ve washed my hands 6,000 times,” said Jill Michel, a mother of seven who fosters two children for CYFD. “… I can’t control where the kids will go for the visits and what they’ll be exposed to.

“They are putting my family at risk and it makes me very uncomfortable. If you’re going to make us take these kids out in the wor[l]d, then you take them for 14 days.”

Kentucky foster parents have made similar comments.

There are two key problems with this:

First, most of the time, children are taken away not because they were beaten and tortured but because of neglect — which often means the family was simply poor

Even when the parents have serious and real problems, children almost always need them. One study found that even infants born with cocaine in their systems fared better left with birth mothers able to care for them than when placed in foster care. Other studies have found that visits are, almost literally, a lifeline for children. This has been so well known for so long that decades ago, an American Bar Association report actually recommended requiring daily visits from a time a child is first removed in so-called “emergencies” until the first court hearing.

So keeping children in contact, in person, with their parents isn’t a matter of what parents want — it’s a matter of what children need.

Also, foster parents of New Mexico: We don’t know what those children are being exposed to in your homes either.

Cutting off all contact with family is not necessary to control the virus. No one is saying that all those college students whose universities have closed shouldn’t be allowed to go home. Foster parents love to say they treat foster children “like our own.” If those New Mexico foster parents had children coming home from college would they make them quarantine themselves elsewhere for 14 days first? All over the world families are reuniting — because they need each other.

Here’s the guidance Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham offered to The New York Times when asked “Can family come to visit?”

“‘Certainly, sick family should not visit,’ said Dr. Marrazzo. ‘If you have vulnerable people in your family, or who are very old, then limit in-person contact.’

“But if everyone in the family is young and healthy, then some careful interaction in small groups is probably OK. ‘The smaller the gathering, the healthier the people are to start with, the lower the risk of the situation is going to be,’ she said.”

To their credit, child welfare officials in New Mexico understand this. They’re continuing in-person visits unless there’s some indication that someone has been exposed to COVID-19. Said the head of New Mexico’s child welfare agency, Brian Blalock: “I can’t imagine being a child trying to get back to your parents and then having this happen. It would make a terrifying situation even more terrifying.”

And there are ways to reduce the risk. How about moving visits outdoors? Why not hold visits in parks? Or how about all those big empty athletic fields at schools that are now closed? And I’ll bet there are some foster parents who have great big backyards of their own suitable for visits. New Mexico is, in fact, moving visits outdoors — but apparently even that isn’t enough for the foster parents. 

And no, video is not enough. For one thing, toddlers don’t always understand videoconferencing, as a mother in New York City explained to NPR:

“She basically hangs up the phone. So it’s like, very emotional for me to try to do FaceTime when she’s not really paying attention. I’m usually, like, you know, feeding her, singing to her, playing with her, we’re bonding really good, and it’s like it snatched it away from me, this whole virus and being away from her now.”

And, of course, video visits take no account of the digital divide: Poor people are most likely to lose children to foster care and least likely to be able to afford the necessary technology.

COURTROOM DOUBLE STANDARDS

Even as visits are being cut back, foster care is being prolonged.

In several states juvenile courts are shutting down — except for taking away children, of course. Those hearings are considered “emergencies.” But if a child has to languish in foster care for weeks or months longer because the hearing on reunification is postponed indefinitely, somehow that’s not an emergency.

In fact, when foster care is prolonged it may well prolong emotional torment for children who never needed to be taken in the first place. It also increases the risk of abuse in foster care — multiple studies have found abuse in one-quarter to one-third of foster homes, and the record of group homes and institutions is even worse. As is discussed below, it may even increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

Again, there are better answers.

  • The most obvious is to hold hearings by phone or video. In many cases this is harder than it should be because some courts have not kept up with technology. Indeed, Texas — not generally known as a child welfare leader — claims to be making an all-out effort.
  • When an in-person hearing is the only option, get smart about scheduling. Instead of demanding that the parties for every case show up all at once first thing in the morning, schedule each hearing for a specific time. If museums can master timed entry tickets, it shouldn’t be that hard for courts to do it.
  • Agencies should be reviewing cases in which a child was scheduled to return home in a few months — and seeing if those children can be returned right now. Then courts should allow judges to approve the return over the phone. After all, judges routinely issue orders to take away children that way.
  • Agencies should be taking another look at the children they’ve institutionalized in group homes and “residential treatment” — which doesn’t work even in the best of times, and see if they can be kept safely in their own homes with wraparound services.

DOES CHILD REMOVAL SPREAD COVID-19?

As with everything else child welfare does wrong, the double standards for courtroom closures are justified in the name of safety. In fact, they may increase the risk to children — not only the risks associated with foster care in general, but the risk of catching COVID-19.

Consider what removing a child entails:

  • The child may well physically resist removal — that means the ultimate in close contact with the strangers who have come to the door to take her or him away.
  • ­The child is forced into the car of caseworkers or police officers who may have transported any number of others.
  • The child waits at an office while a foster home is found.
  • If no foster home is found, the child is put back into a car and transported to the worst option of all — one of those godawful parking place shelters, where they will be thrown in with scores of other children and youth.
  • And every time the shift changes at the shelters — or at other institutions — the children are exposed to a new set of strangers.
  • When a foster home is found, it’s another car ride to another set of strangers.
  • And to top it off, if courts are continuing to hold hearings to take children away, but refusing to hold hearings to send them home, all those foster homes and shelters are likely to get more crowded.

Again there is a better answer: Think a lot harder about whether that child really is in such immediate danger that the only option is taking her or him away from home. 

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES

You can bet child welfare agencies are going to make children suffer long after the pandemic is over. Just watch: Thanks to prolonged needless foster care due to court closings, more children will be in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months. That triggers a requirement in the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act for agencies to move to terminate parental rights. Some state laws have even shorter timelines.

In fact, there are plenty of exceptions in the law. “ASFA made me do it” is the child welfare equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.” But you can be sure agencies will rush to invoke ASFA whenever they simply like the foster parents better.

And some foster parents will do it themselves: Having pushed to cut off in-person visits and with courts delaying reunification, anyone care to bet we’ll see more efforts by foster parents to play the “bonding card”? In other words, they’ll say: Well, maybe the children never should have been taken in the first place, but they’ve been with us for a long time and they’ve had almost no contact with their parents — so we should be allowed to keep them.

YES, IT IS EASY FOR ME TO SAY

To those who are on the frontlines who read this and think: Sure, that’s easy for him to say, I have just one response: You’re absolutely right.

Yes, my job is much easier than yours. It’s also much easier than the jobs of my letter carrier, the guy who delivers my groceries and all those other people who never asked to be on the frontlines during a pandemic. And it’s certainly easier than the jobs of all those volunteers who are running toward the problem even as so many in child welfare want to run away.

They’re all doing their jobs. Those foster parents in New Mexico and Kentucky, those people who keep the courts running and those who run child welfare agencies need to do their jobs as well.

Richard Wexler is executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

The post Child Welfare’s Response to COVID-19 Is Sickening appeared first on Youth Today.


Child Welfare’s Response to COVID-19 Is Sickening

foster care: A young baby having a fit on the ground crying.

LittleDogKorat/Shutterstock

.

All over America, there are people who can’t stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some always knew their jobs carried risks: Doctors and nurses, police and firefighters, and, yes, child protective services caseworkers. Others were, in effect, drafted into the fight: Letter carriers, pharmacists, truck drivers and all those people stocking shelves and running cash registers at grocery stores. And then there are the people who simply volunteer — like those delivering meals to the elderly.

But while so many others are stepping up, some foster parents in New Mexico and Kentucky are whining because they can’t step away. They’re complaining because — at least for now — they are not allowed to cut their foster children off from all in-person visits with their own families.

Worse, these states may soon be an exception. Other states and localities have, in fact, cut off in-person visits between foster children and their families — and even their siblings in separate foster homes. Many court systems, while continuing to hold hearings to rubber-stamp taking children away from their parents, have shut down hearings to send them home again — so foster children will not only be further isolated from their own families, the isolation will be prolonged.

And when former foster youth Sixto Cancel organized a webinar for foster youth so they could hear how agencies would respond to their needs, almost all the questions came from public and private child welfare agencies — and none of their questions was about the needs of the kids. They were all about how many requirements the agencies could be excused from meeting — and, of course, how they will be paid. There was so much naked self-interest on display I’m surprised the whole event wasn’t busted by the vice squad.

No questioner from the agencies expressed concern about canceled visits or delays in reunification. Instead, Jerry Milner, who runs the Children’s Bureau in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and was there to answer the questions, had to raise those concerns himself.

I’m sure there are individual foster parents who are extending themselves heroically to keep foster children in touch with their families. There are caseworkers putting themselves at risk both to investigate actual child abuse and to help families stay together when their poverty is confused with neglect. As always, the bad news gets the attention.

But the predominant institutional response of child welfare systems reveals greed, fear and selfishness. All sorts of other businesses are donating to help fight COVID-19 — including breweries converting their production lines to make hand sanitizer and already hard-hit restaurants donating meals. They say the same thing: We help now; we’ll figure out the money later. But not child welfare. 

In short, child welfare’s response to COVID-19 is sickening. Yes, there are serious and real concerns about spreading the virus. But with some guts and imagination, child welfare can cope without doing further harm to vulnerable children. Their failure to be creative doesn’t just do emotional harm to foster children — it risks increasing the spread of COVID-19 itself.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

All this is simply one more manifestation of how child welfare really views families: essentially subhuman. The message is clear: Why should we sacrifice ourselves for those rotten, no-good parents? After all, look what they did to their kids.

You can hear it in the words of those New Mexico foster parents, who were showcased in a story from Searchlight New Mexico:

“I’ve cleaned my house, I’ve canceled all activities, I’ve washed my hands 6,000 times,” said Jill Michel, a mother of seven who fosters two children for CYFD. “… I can’t control where the kids will go for the visits and what they’ll be exposed to.

“They are putting my family at risk and it makes me very uncomfortable. If you’re going to make us take these kids out in the wor[l]d, then you take them for 14 days.”

Kentucky foster parents have made similar comments.

There are two key problems with this:

First, most of the time, children are taken away not because they were beaten and tortured but because of neglect — which often means the family was simply poor

Even when the parents have serious and real problems, children almost always need them. One study found that even infants born with cocaine in their systems fared better left with birth mothers able to care for them than when placed in foster care. Other studies have found that visits are, almost literally, a lifeline for children. This has been so well known for so long that decades ago, an American Bar Association report actually recommended requiring daily visits from a time a child is first removed in so-called “emergencies” until the first court hearing.

So keeping children in contact, in person, with their parents isn’t a matter of what parents want — it’s a matter of what children need.

Also, foster parents of New Mexico: We don’t know what those children are being exposed to in your homes either.

Cutting off all contact with family is not necessary to control the virus. No one is saying that all those college students whose universities have closed shouldn’t be allowed to go home. Foster parents love to say they treat foster children “like our own.” If those New Mexico foster parents had children coming home from college would they make them quarantine themselves elsewhere for 14 days first? All over the world families are reuniting — because they need each other.

Here’s the guidance Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham offered to The New York Times when asked “Can family come to visit?”

“‘Certainly, sick family should not visit,’ said Dr. Marrazzo. ‘If you have vulnerable people in your family, or who are very old, then limit in-person contact.’

“But if everyone in the family is young and healthy, then some careful interaction in small groups is probably OK. ‘The smaller the gathering, the healthier the people are to start with, the lower the risk of the situation is going to be,’ she said.”

To their credit, child welfare officials in New Mexico understand this. They’re continuing in-person visits unless there’s some indication that someone has been exposed to COVID-19. Said the head of New Mexico’s child welfare agency, Brian Blalock: “I can’t imagine being a child trying to get back to your parents and then having this happen. It would make a terrifying situation even more terrifying.”

And there are ways to reduce the risk. How about moving visits outdoors? Why not hold visits in parks? Or how about all those big empty athletic fields at schools that are now closed? And I’ll bet there are some foster parents who have great big backyards of their own suitable for visits. New Mexico is, in fact, moving visits outdoors — but apparently even that isn’t enough for the foster parents. 

And no, video is not enough. For one thing, toddlers don’t always understand videoconferencing, as a mother in New York City explained to NPR:

“She basically hangs up the phone. So it’s like, very emotional for me to try to do FaceTime when she’s not really paying attention. I’m usually, like, you know, feeding her, singing to her, playing with her, we’re bonding really good, and it’s like it snatched it away from me, this whole virus and being away from her now.”

And, of course, video visits take no account of the digital divide: Poor people are most likely to lose children to foster care and least likely to be able to afford the necessary technology.

COURTROOM DOUBLE STANDARDS

Even as visits are being cut back, foster care is being prolonged.

In several states juvenile courts are shutting down — except for taking away children, of course. Those hearings are considered “emergencies.” But if a child has to languish in foster care for weeks or months longer because the hearing on reunification is postponed indefinitely, somehow that’s not an emergency.

In fact, when foster care is prolonged it may well prolong emotional torment for children who never needed to be taken in the first place. It also increases the risk of abuse in foster care — multiple studies have found abuse in one-quarter to one-third of foster homes, and the record of group homes and institutions is even worse. As is discussed below, it may even increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

Again, there are better answers.

  • The most obvious is to hold hearings by phone or video. In many cases this is harder than it should be because some courts have not kept up with technology. Indeed, Texas — not generally known as a child welfare leader — claims to be making an all-out effort.
  • When an in-person hearing is the only option, get smart about scheduling. Instead of demanding that the parties for every case show up all at once first thing in the morning, schedule each hearing for a specific time. If museums can master timed entry tickets, it shouldn’t be that hard for courts to do it.
  • Agencies should be reviewing cases in which a child was scheduled to return home in a few months — and seeing if those children can be returned right now. Then courts should allow judges to approve the return over the phone. After all, judges routinely issue orders to take away children that way.
  • Agencies should be taking another look at the children they’ve institutionalized in group homes and “residential treatment” — which doesn’t work even in the best of times, and see if they can be kept safely in their own homes with wraparound services.

DOES CHILD REMOVAL SPREAD COVID-19?

As with everything else child welfare does wrong, the double standards for courtroom closures are justified in the name of safety. In fact, they may increase the risk to children — not only the risks associated with foster care in general, but the risk of catching COVID-19.

Consider what removing a child entails:

  • The child may well physically resist removal — that means the ultimate in close contact with the strangers who have come to the door to take her or him away.
  • ­The child is forced into the car of caseworkers or police officers who may have transported any number of others.
  • The child waits at an office while a foster home is found.
  • If no foster home is found, the child is put back into a car and transported to the worst option of all — one of those godawful parking place shelters, where they will be thrown in with scores of other children and youth.
  • And every time the shift changes at the shelters — or at other institutions — the children are exposed to a new set of strangers.
  • When a foster home is found, it’s another car ride to another set of strangers.
  • And to top it off, if courts are continuing to hold hearings to take children away, but refusing to hold hearings to send them home, all those foster homes and shelters are likely to get more crowded.

Again there is a better answer: Think a lot harder about whether that child really is in such immediate danger that the only option is taking her or him away from home. 

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES

You can bet child welfare agencies are going to make children suffer long after the pandemic is over. Just watch: Thanks to prolonged needless foster care due to court closings, more children will be in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months. That triggers a requirement in the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act for agencies to move to terminate parental rights. Some state laws have even shorter timelines.

In fact, there are plenty of exceptions in the law. “ASFA made me do it” is the child welfare equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.” But you can be sure agencies will rush to invoke ASFA whenever they simply like the foster parents better.

And some foster parents will do it themselves: Having pushed to cut off in-person visits and with courts delaying reunification, anyone care to bet we’ll see more efforts by foster parents to play the “bonding card”? In other words, they’ll say: Well, maybe the children never should have been taken in the first place, but they’ve been with us for a long time and they’ve had almost no contact with their parents — so we should be allowed to keep them.

YES, IT IS EASY FOR ME TO SAY

To those who are on the frontlines who read this and think: Sure, that’s easy for him to say, I have just one response: You’re absolutely right.

Yes, my job is much easier than yours. It’s also much easier than the jobs of my letter carrier, the guy who delivers my groceries and all those other people who never asked to be on the frontlines during a pandemic. And it’s certainly easier than the jobs of all those volunteers who are running toward the problem even as so many in child welfare want to run away.

They’re all doing their jobs. Those foster parents in New Mexico and Kentucky, those people who keep the courts running and those who run child welfare agencies need to do their jobs as well.

Richard Wexler is executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

The post Child Welfare’s Response to COVID-19 Is Sickening appeared first on Youth Today.


A Guide to Community Strategies for Improving Emerging Adults’ Safety and Well-Being

See Full Report

Author(s): Urban Institute

Published: March 18, 2020

Report Intro/Brief:
“Research suggests emerging adulthood (defined roughly as ages 18 to 26) is a distinct and critical stage for paving the way to healthy and stable adulthood. A lack of support and opportunity during this stage can increase people’s risk of justice system involvement and carry lifelong consequences for them and their communities. Developing targeted policies and services that promote healthy development among young people, bolster their resiliency, and help them reach key milestones can improve individual outcomes and support public safety. Practitioners and policymakers are increasingly acknowledging this fact and designing justice responses specifically for emerging adults.

However, much less attention has been paid to building and sustaining community-based continua of care and opportunity to support young adults and help them avoid the harmful and lasting consequences of justice involvement. Justice practitioners and service providers can reduce emerging adults’ justice system contact by supporting prevention efforts, offering diversion opportunities alongside social services, and reducing the long-term negative impacts of justice involvement. In turn, these strategies can advance public safety, mitigate barriers created by structural inequality, and build alliances with community partners.

This guide synthesizes research about emerging adults’ unique needs and highlights strategies for supporting them. We conducted a high-level literature review, identified examples of policies and programs US communities are using to support young adults, and interviewed six emerging adults (box 1 offers additional methodological details). This guide’s sections highlight three focus areas for practitioners looking to improve outcomes for emerging adults: (1) relationships and support networks, (2) health and well-being, and (3) stability and financial security. Each section includes a research overview, examples of strategies and programs, feedback from emerging adults, and guiding questions for practitioners regarding ways to leverage community supports for emerging adults.”


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s REPORT LIBRARY

The post A Guide to Community Strategies for Improving Emerging Adults’ Safety and Well-Being appeared first on Youth Today.


Co-occurring contaminants may increase NC groundwater risks

Contaminants that occur together naturally in groundwater under certain geological conditions may heighten health risks for millions of North Carolinians whose drinking water comes from private wells, and current safety regulations don’t address the problem, a new Duke University study finds.

Child Mind Institute Names Mimi Corcoran as New Executive Director

Mimi Corcoran newsmaker headshot; woman in red shirt looking at camera

Child Mind Institute

Mimi Corcoran

The Child Mind Institute recently named Mimi Corcoran as its new executive director.

Corcoran brings more than 25 years of children-focused philanthropic executive experience with her to the national children’s mental health and learning disorder nonprofit. She arrives at Child Mind Institute after having some time off from those executive positions for the past year as an independent consultant in nonprofit strategy and, fittingly, executive recruitment.

Corcoran’s most recent organizational position was as president and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities for about two-and-a-half years. Prior to that, she served for a year as vice president of talent development at New Visions for Public Schools and for a year as president and CEO of ANDRUS.

Corcoran’s career first picked up in 1996, after she earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MPA with a concentration in finance from New York University. She joined the Open Society Foundations as director of special projects, overseeing international philanthropy work with a $450 million budget. Her outstanding work in this position got her noticed by others in the nonprofit sector.

In 2000, Beginning with Children Foundation hired Corcoran as its executive director. She would lead this Brooklyn nonprofit for more than seven years, growing its capacity and expanding quality educational opportunities to thousands of disadvantaged New York youth.

Corcoran would subsequently take a two-year hiatus from leading an organization; using her expertise to help other nonprofits by becoming a partner of the Hudson Heights Partners, a consulting company that aided nonprofits in development of growth strategies, fundraising and management.

Open Society Foundations then wanted her back in 2009. Corcoran returned to the organization to be director of its Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, where she would spend another four years. It was after this that she joined ANDRUS as its president and CEO.

“Mimi is a tremendously effective leader, and we are excited by the knowledge and passion that she is going to bring to advancing our mission,” said Child Mind Institute Founding President and Medical Director Harold S. Koplewicz, MD in a press release about the appointment. “This is an exciting time of growth and opportunity for the Child Mind Institute, and Mimi is the ideal person to help lead us forward.”

Mimi Corcoran assumes the responsibilities as executive director of the Child Mind Institute immediately.

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Child Mind Institute Names Mimi Corcoran as New Executive Director

Mimi Corcoran newsmaker headshot; woman in red shirt looking at camera

Child Mind Institute

Mimi Corcoran

The Child Mind Institute recently named Mimi Corcoran as its new executive director.

Corcoran brings more than 25 years of children-focused philanthropic executive experience with her to the national children’s mental health and learning disorder nonprofit. She arrives at Child Mind Institute after having some time off from those executive positions for the past year as an independent consultant in nonprofit strategy and, fittingly, executive recruitment.

Corcoran’s most recent organizational position was as president and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities for about two-and-a-half years. Prior to that, she served for a year as vice president of talent development at New Visions for Public Schools and for a year as president and CEO of ANDRUS.

Corcoran’s career first picked up in 1996, after she earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MPA with a concentration in finance from New York University. She joined the Open Society Foundations as director of special projects, overseeing international philanthropy work with a $450 million budget. Her outstanding work in this position got her noticed by others in the nonprofit sector.

In 2000, Beginning with Children Foundation hired Corcoran as its executive director. She would lead this Brooklyn nonprofit for more than seven years, growing its capacity and expanding quality educational opportunities to thousands of disadvantaged New York youth.

Corcoran would subsequently take a two-year hiatus from leading an organization; using her expertise to help other nonprofits by becoming a partner of the Hudson Heights Partners, a consulting company that aided nonprofits in development of growth strategies, fundraising and management.

Open Society Foundations then wanted her back in 2009. Corcoran returned to the organization to be director of its Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, where she would spend another four years. It was after this that she joined ANDRUS as its president and CEO.

“Mimi is a tremendously effective leader, and we are excited by the knowledge and passion that she is going to bring to advancing our mission,” said Child Mind Institute Founding President and Medical Director Harold S. Koplewicz, MD in a press release about the appointment. “This is an exciting time of growth and opportunity for the Child Mind Institute, and Mimi is the ideal person to help lead us forward.”

Mimi Corcoran assumes the responsibilities as executive director of the Child Mind Institute immediately.

The post Child Mind Institute Names Mimi Corcoran as New Executive Director appeared first on Youth Today.


Nutrition Education, Multigenerational Cooking Lessons Target Childhood Obesity

cooking: 2 women in white cooking uniforms work with food at steel counter

Photos by Stell Simonton

Chef Ashley Keyes and high school intern Olivia Richardson make garlic bread at the nonprofit C.H.O.I.C.E.S., which combats child obesity through cooking and nutrition education.

A tomato sauce bubbles on the stove. The aroma of baking chicken fills the air.  There’s a hum of voices, a burst of laughter and a rhythmic pounding as volunteer Athena Manning flattens pieces of chicken breast with a mallet.

Chef Ashley Keyes, in her white hat and jacket, positions children and their accompanying adults at stainless steel prep tables. Several adults stand on the sidelines, poised to help. 

It’s the community education kitchen at C.H.O.I.C.E.S. For Kids in downtown Atlanta. Parents and children are learning tasty, healthy and inexpensive recipes they can reproduce at home.

Although it’s a small commercial kitchen, there’s a convivial spirit — the feel of being in an African-American home kitchen in the South with friendly repartee and an appreciation for food.

C.H.O.I.C.E.S., a nonprofit devoted to ending childhood obesity, was founded in 2002 by accountant Vanetta Keys. 

Keyes started the program initially as a support group when her daughter, Ashley, was young.

“There weren’t many resources available to overweight kids,” Vanetta Keys said.

Today C.H.O.I.C.E.S. functions as a resource center providing cooking classes, workshops, summer camps and health expos. Ashley Keyes, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, is executive chef. C.H.O.I.C.E.S. has a budget of $150,000, one full-time staff person and three part-time staffers.

The cooking class, held one night a week for three weeks, focuses on an inexpensive recipe that can feed a family of four.

“It allows us to teach families how to cook healthier at home,” Vanzetta Keyes said.

“If I’m cooking in the kitchen I’m cooking more vegetables and produce,” she said. In a restaurant, she said, she would be eating more sodium.

African-American and Hispanic kids are at a higher risk of obesity than the population as a whole, which in turn raises their risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Gaining skills 

While the kids chop onions, peppers and mushrooms, Manning, the volunteer, sears the chicken on the grill.

Manning’s daughter, Olivia Richardson, 14, an intern in the program, demonstrates how to make garlic bread with roasted garlic cloves that are soft and spreadable. She is enrolled in a culinary program at Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Ga.

cooking: Kids and adults in white aprons cook at steel counter with red chopping boards and bowls.

Children and adults work together to make a chicken and eggplant dish at a class at C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

Cady Thomas, who turns 11 this month, is dicing peppers with her mother. “I learned how to cut onions and peppers,” she said.

When the chopping and mixing ends, the children and parents sit down in another room.

“What have you eaten this week?” Ashley asks the kids.

“Cereal,” a boy answers. “Cap’n Crunch.”

“If cereal has 9 grams of sugar or less, buy it,” she says to the group. “Do you know how much sugar is in a serving size of Cap’n Crunch?”

She sends the boy to get a box of packaged food from a table of items donated by the Atlanta Food Bank.

“This is a nutrition label. It tells you what’s in your food,” she says.

She shows the kids how to read the labels. They look at pictures of many different foods arranged under the categories “Go,” “Slow” and “Whoa,” indicating  which foods are best eaten frequently vs. infrequently. They learn to use a phone app that analyzes food labels.

Then it’s time for the whole group to dine on chicken parmesan with eggplant and angel hair pasta.

The program aims to address obesity from a nutrition standpoint, Vanetta Keyes says. 

To do so, it uses several ingredients.

While many after-school programs want to engage parents but find it difficult, the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. cooking class involves both parents and children. C.H.O.I.C.E.S. offers hands-on learning, presents information in an engaging way, builds career skills through internships and includes a communal meal. Parents also take home donated food items.

C.H.O.I.C.E.S. creates a positive experience while providing lots of nutrition information aimed at solving a challenging issue.

The post Nutrition Education, Multigenerational Cooking Lessons Target Childhood Obesity appeared first on Youth Today.


Nutrition Education, Multigenerational Cooking Lessons Target Childhood Obesity

cooking: 2 women in white cooking uniforms work with food at steel counter

Photos by Stell Simonton

Chef Ashley Keyes and high school intern Olivia Richardson make garlic bread at the nonprofit C.H.O.I.C.E.S., which combats child obesity through cooking and nutrition education.

A tomato sauce bubbles on the stove. The aroma of baking chicken fills the air.  There’s a hum of voices, a burst of laughter and a rhythmic pounding as volunteer Athena Manning flattens pieces of chicken breast with a mallet.

Chef Ashley Keyes, in her white hat and jacket, positions children and their accompanying adults at stainless steel prep tables. Several adults stand on the sidelines, poised to help. 

It’s the community education kitchen at C.H.O.I.C.E.S. For Kids in downtown Atlanta. Parents and children are learning tasty, healthy and inexpensive recipes they can reproduce at home.

Although it’s a small commercial kitchen, there’s a convivial spirit — the feel of being in an African-American home kitchen in the South with friendly repartee and an appreciation for food.

C.H.O.I.C.E.S., a nonprofit devoted to ending childhood obesity, was founded in 2002 by accountant Vanetta Keys. 

Keyes started the program initially as a support group when her daughter, Ashley, was young.

“There weren’t many resources available to overweight kids,” Vanetta Keys said.

Today C.H.O.I.C.E.S. functions as a resource center providing cooking classes, workshops, summer camps and health expos. Ashley Keyes, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, is executive chef. C.H.O.I.C.E.S. has a budget of $150,000, one full-time staff person and three part-time staffers.

The cooking class, held one night a week for three weeks, focuses on an inexpensive recipe that can feed a family of four.

“It allows us to teach families how to cook healthier at home,” Vanzetta Keyes said.

“If I’m cooking in the kitchen I’m cooking more vegetables and produce,” she said. In a restaurant, she said, she would be eating more sodium.

African-American and Hispanic kids are at a higher risk of obesity than the population as a whole, which in turn raises their risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Gaining skills 

While the kids chop onions, peppers and mushrooms, Manning, the volunteer, sears the chicken on the grill.

Manning’s daughter, Olivia Richardson, 14, an intern in the program, demonstrates how to make garlic bread with roasted garlic cloves that are soft and spreadable. She is enrolled in a culinary program at Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Ga.

cooking: Kids and adults in white aprons cook at steel counter with red chopping boards and bowls.

Children and adults work together to make a chicken and eggplant dish at a class at C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

Cady Thomas, who turns 11 this month, is dicing peppers with her mother. “I learned how to cut onions and peppers,” she said.

When the chopping and mixing ends, the children and parents sit down in another room.

“What have you eaten this week?” Ashley asks the kids.

“Cereal,” a boy answers. “Cap’n Crunch.”

“If cereal has 9 grams of sugar or less, buy it,” she says to the group. “Do you know how much sugar is in a serving size of Cap’n Crunch?”

She sends the boy to get a box of packaged food from a table of items donated by the Atlanta Food Bank.

“This is a nutrition label. It tells you what’s in your food,” she says.

She shows the kids how to read the labels. They look at pictures of many different foods arranged under the categories “Go,” “Slow” and “Whoa,” indicating  which foods are best eaten frequently vs. infrequently. They learn to use a phone app that analyzes food labels.

Then it’s time for the whole group to dine on chicken parmesan with eggplant and angel hair pasta.

The program aims to address obesity from a nutrition standpoint, Vanetta Keyes says. 

To do so, it uses several ingredients.

While many after-school programs want to engage parents but find it difficult, the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. cooking class involves both parents and children. C.H.O.I.C.E.S. offers hands-on learning, presents information in an engaging way, builds career skills through internships and includes a communal meal. Parents also take home donated food items.

C.H.O.I.C.E.S. creates a positive experience while providing lots of nutrition information aimed at solving a challenging issue.

The post Nutrition Education, Multigenerational Cooking Lessons Target Childhood Obesity appeared first on Youth Today.


The Risks of Threat Assessment to Students Are Dire

threat assessment: Thoughtful black student holding snack outdoors

Motortion Films/Shutterstock

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In the wake of highly publicized and tragic mass shootings at schools, jurisdictions across the country have responded with a flood of expanded school security policies. While much of this policymaking has echoed previous measures, like school hardening, surveillance and policing, some policymakers have focused on preventing targeted violence (where an attacker selects a particular target in advance) by identifying potentially violent actors and intervening to stop them before a violent act occurs. They label this threat assessment. 

The expansion of threat assessment as a routine school safety tool has been swift, with little thought given to the ramifications for youth rights. 

threat assessment: Harold Jordan (headshot), senior policy advocate at American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, smiling balding man with gray hair, beard, mustache, dark blue suit and tie, white shirt

Harold Jordan

Often these reactive policies do little to promote actual safety, while undermining the basic civil rights and civil liberties of students who pose no real threat to the school community, with particularly harsh consequences for students of color and students with disabilities. The broad and unrestricted use of threat assessments will likely undermine the slow progress schools and the justice system have been making in stemming the school-to-prison pipeline.

What is threat assessment anyway?

Threat assessment is promoted as a process for evaluating communicated threats to the school community, within their context, to determine whether threats are likely to be carried out. The goal is to be in a position to take preventative action on true threats without overreacting to normal juvenile venting, joking or personal characteristics common among young people (such as styles of dress, communication, etc.). 

Unlike profiling or risk assessment, threat assessment should be triggered by a communication or threatening behavior, not personal characteristics. The reality is quite different. A student’s personal characteristics, or subjective opinions about a student, can serve as the basis for initiating a formal assessment process, which can lead to serious consequences for the student. 

For instance, an award-winning investigative report in The Oregonian, “Targeted: A Family and the Quest to Stop the Next School Shooter,” tells the story of an autistic student who was placed into a threat assessment process for an extended period of time largely based on profiling, although he had made no threat. The student eventually dropped out of school.

Blurred lines between behavior and personal characteristics in threat assessment protocols often turn instruments that were designed to assess the danger of actual, communicated threats into attempts to predict future behavior. When threat assessment goes beyond communicated threats in this way, the risk of decisions based on implicit and explicit bias increases dramatically. 

Anonymity expands the risks

The risks of these harmful decisions are a growing problem as states move toward mandatory threat assessments. At least 10 states have passed threat assessment laws, five in 2019 alone. Threat assessment is also used in many schools even where state law does not make it mandatory. The U.S. Secret Service recently launched an initiative to promote the widespread use of threat assessment in schools. Schools across the country are trying to determine how to best implement threat assessments, often with limited resources.

Because policymakers, including legislators, promote threat assessment as a tool to prevent school shootings, school leaders are under intense pressure to use threat assessment too broadly and without appropriate guardrails, even when they may have reservations. In many jurisdictions, a threat assessment can be triggered by any report of behavior or concern, even when no explicit threat is made. 

The scope and breadth of reported concerns and the resulting investigations becomes all the more troubling as states implement anonymous reporting systems. Pennsylvania’s anonymous reporting program, Safe2Say, received more than 40,000 tips in its first year. Anonymous reports are sometimes used to bully students. 

I have observed these issues firsthand. Because of my statewide work on school issues, I was asked to serve on a newly formed threat assessment advisory group in September 2019 by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. This group drafted guidelines for school districts on how to implement the June 2019 state law that requires every K-12 public school to have a threat assessment team and process. As in other states, Pennsylvania’s guidelines fail to contain the guardrails to ensure threat assessments are not misused. 

To minimize the unintended consequences already being seen across the country, policymakers and school leaders should place restrictions on what can trigger threat assessment and when to involve law enforcement. Importantly, they should incorporate more transparency and oversight protections in the use of threat assessment. There should be public reporting of data on the numbers and characteristics of students who have been assessed, as well as outcomes.

Privacy, equity can take a hit

What’s at stake are violations of student privacy and increased referrals of students to law enforcement when there is no actionable threat, with long-term negative consequences for students.

Threat assessment teams typically include law enforcement, which some states require by law. Assessment protocols can effectively circumvent longstanding privacy laws that restrict the sharing of student records with police except in genuine emergencies or by court order. They thus increase the likelihood of justice system involvement for students, even when there is no actionable threat. 

Information may be held indefinitely, inserted into other criminal justice databases accessible to law enforcement and others in the future. The potential uses for such information are endless and potentially catastrophic. Will the threat label follow students, even when they cause no harm? Can information or tips gathered in the threat assessment process be used for immigration enforcement purposes?

Although limited data is available, it is clear that students of color, students with disabilities and other vulnerable populations are being disproportionately impacted. These disparities echo trends in school discipline and arrests in schools. 

Currently available data indicates that black students are disproportionately referred for threat assessments. Similarly, students with disabilities are substantially more likely to be referred than other students. Groups of students may be ostracized, stigmatized and profiled without any explicit or believable threat.

A recent investigative report by Searchlight New Mexico, “Who’s the Threat?” found that the Albuquerque, N.M., school district conducted 834 threat assessments during the 2018-19 school year. Special education students, while 18% of students, were the subject of 56% of all threat assessments. Similarly, black students, who comprised only 2.6% of students, accounted for 9.6% of the students assessed.

While threat assessment was developed to provide a roadmap to isolate true threats that need attention, the trends in implementation illustrate that our schools risk the opposite. As the number of threat assessments increase and the number of students labeled as “threats” grows, it will become harder still to isolate the actual true threat and to provide supportive interventions. 

Likewise, the research on averted shootings is clear: Students are more likely to come forward with information about genuine safety threats when they feel respected by the adults and trust them to be fair. Growing supportive school communities prevents violence. Ostracizing students who stand out or misspeak does not create such a community.

A just approach

Threat assessment, to be effective and fair, must: be restricted to situations in which a clear threat is communicated; be transparently assessed for patterns of inequity (by race, disability, gender, etc.); and limit police involvement — including unwarranted access to student records — to emergency situations where there is an imminent threat to the school community, and school staff determine that a referral to law enforcement is needed. 

The alternative is a school community where there is bias, unfair punishment and mistrust between students and adults who administer school discipline and intervention processes — a school community where students may hesitate before asking for help or reporting concerns.

Harold Jordan is senior policy advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at hjordan@aclupa.org

 

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Youth Homeless Providers Call on New York City Officials For Plan

homeless: Clothes spread out in city gutter.

Niamh McDonnell

This file photo of Manhattan is from 2019.

UPDATE: A young man staying in a Sheltering Arms youth shelter tested positive for COVID-19 Monday. The Chronicle of Social Change reported that he had been isolated. The Coalition for Homeless Youth and Legal Aid Society called for increased financial support from the city for homeless youth providers. Read the full statement here.

NEW YORK — As a global pandemic looms over New York City, one group in particular might be getting left behind, homeless youth — a vulnerable subset of the general homeless population made up of runaway youth, LGBTQ teens and other young people experiencing homelessness. 

As confirmed cases ramp up to more than 9,000, New York City homeless shelters are put in a particularly precarious situation. New Yorkers are encouraged to keep six feet away from each other and self-isolate when necessary — a nearly impossible challenge for people who must live in group settings like shelters. 

ny bureauWhile the Department of Homeless Services has released guidelines for how adult homeless shelters should respond to health guidelines, the agency that oversees youth shelters, the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), has not released its own set of guidelines. 

It doesn’t make sense to create blanket guidelines, as each youth shelter is so different, said Randy Scott, the agency’s runaway and homeless youth service coordinator. 

Providers are in the process of planning how youth shelters — which are smaller shelters that usually include no more than 20 beds — are going to handle the global pandemic as it runs rampant in New York City. Some advocates see the agency’s reluctance to put out guidelines as dangerously negligent.

DYCD’s “complete negligence of the needs of youth experiencing homelessness and their contracted providers regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is dangerous and exemplary of the mismanagement in their agency,” the Coalition for Homeless Youth said in a statement.

Butting heads 

In the last week, a few nonprofits have taken to opinion columns to express their frustrations with how the city is handling social, particularly youth shelters. Michelle Yanche, the executive director of Good Shepherd Services, which offers residential housing for at-risk New York City youth, wrote that the city is not providing guidance fast enough to social service workers. The city’s hands-off approach is leaving providers uncertain about whether they can close certain programming for the safety of their staff and not incur huge financial cuts, she said. 

While many companies and individuals have the ability to pack up their laptops and head home to weather the storm, it’s a different reality for those in the social services sector,” Yanche wrote. “Our staff are the ones on the front lines every day, risking their own health to ensure New Yorkers have what they need when it matters the most.”

Smiling balding man in dark suit, white shirt

Jeremy Kohomban

President of The Children’s Village Jeremy Kohomban, wrote in amNY about his concerns for the Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., temporary home for roughly 300 children in New York City, with 112 staff members on site. 

“We are following government guidelines to ensure that we are taking every necessary precaution, including performing daily sanitation of all our facilities, no small task given our size,” Kohomban wrote. “But we need to do much more than that.” 

homeless: Smiling woman with short blond hair, glasses

Beth Hofmeister

While it’s true that all youth shelters operate differently based on their size and various services, DYCD has the power to control larger decisions such as shutting down certain programming, staggering staff schedules and designating shelters as isolation centers, said Beth Hofmeister, a Legal Aid Society homeless rights attorney. 

“Right now, it kind of feels like you have to give all the services or nothing,” Hofmeister said. “But [the DYCD] has an ability to look at the system as a whole to figure this out.” 

Scott said that daily communication and following the safety guidelines already set by the New York City Department of Health and the state has so far been successful.

“Everybody is moving at an expeditious rate,” Scott said. “Communication has been at an all-time high. Collaboration has been at an all-time high.”

But Kohomban said that while he has received several long emails from the city agency, they have yet to offer any concrete help. And the city isn’t seeking out input from The Children’s Village in its planning process, he said.

‘We are on the front lines doing this work every day,” Kohomban said in an email. “Why not include us in the planning? We have good ideas that should make this more manageable. We are all in this together. Government should not feel that they MUST have all the answers — we have very good and pragmatic ideas as well.”

There are some providers who think DYCD is doing a good job communicating with agencies. 

homeless: Smiling woman with dark hair, black jacket, white shirt

Keisha Phipps

Keisha Phipps, the vice president and chief administrative officer of CORE Services Group, said the DYCD is publishing daily vacancies so that all providers know what’s available and can connect young people with open beds at any DYCD-funded shelter. 

We’re very collaborative in that space,” she said. “All the providers really work together to make sure that there’s never a young person who doesn’t have a bed. The alternative right now is couch surfing or living on the street, and that’s not even an option right now.” 

Everyone is generally very communicative in the Department of Homeless Services and DYCD, but now they’re all ramping up communication and acting as quickly as possible, Phipps said. 

What’s open

Since homeless shelters are considered “essential business entities,” all DYCD-funded runaway and homeless youth programs remain open to some degree. For many shelters, this means keeping essential support programs — such as overnight facilities and meal services — open while suspending other in-person services like mental health counseling or community-based workshops.  

However, several providers seem to have stopped their nonresidential services. For instance, The Door, a South Bronx-based organization that provides services to runaway and homeless youth but not shelter, has closed their doors until at least March 30. They’re offering food and hygiene kits that can be picked up at their center. 

Calls to several organizations, including Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, Good Shepherd Services and Diaspora Community Services, suggest that their nonresidential services have paused and administrative staff is working from home. 

As Phipps said, many runaway and homeless youth have faced overlapping challenges including trauma, abuse and neglect in their homes. So continuing as many support services as possible may be essential for some homeless youth, especially during this time. 

Staffing issues

Staffing has proven to be the most pressing issue for providers, given that many shelters rely on support from interns from graduate social work programs. The closure of city colleges and universities has sent many of these students home. 

homeless: Smiling woman with very short blond hair, wearing earphones, gray jacket with lapel pin of safety pins

Jamie Powlovich

“You’re dealing simultaneously with a staff capacity issue because of the virus itself, because of child care issues, parents having to stay home with their kids, and now, losing intern staff capacity because of the closing of the colleges,” said Jamie Powlovich, executive director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth. 

Shelters are tinkering with solutions to this. Kohomban explained how Children’s Village has been managing: “We’re implementing staggered schedules to accommodate social distancing, providing all the cleaning supplies and services we can, and any staff who are sick in any way must stay home. It’s certainly an adjustment, but we’re not experiencing any major issues so far.”

Scott said he is dealing with staffing shortages on a case-by-case basis. 

“We’re allowing providers to tell us what their capacity is to operate,” he  said. “… We’ll look at the possibility of reducing certain services like workshopping that maybe don’t have to happen at this current time.”

Phipps said CORE has created an “emergency schedule,” which includes a shift reduction, information about which employees live closest to the facilities and a plan for what will happen in the case of employees calling out of work. They’re currently looking into cross-training some employees so that they’re prepared to perform operational duties outside their normal roles. But, Phipps said, she’s impressed by how many employees haven’t called out of work. 

“We’re saying to our staff, ‘We need you to come to work,’ and they’ve come to work,” she said. “They’ve come early and they stayed late. They understand that this is their responsibility.” 

While these are solutions that work right now, in several weeks, when scientists predict the pandemic will begin to peak across the United States, Kohomban says he does not feel prepared: “We don’t have what we need yet.”

Specifically, he said his shelter doesn’t have the personal protective equipment and supplies necessary to quarantine residents on site. 

Quarantining

Scott said on Thursday that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the youth shelters yet, but some teens have shown symptoms and were either isolated or taken to the hospital. 

“For every case that has been called in, they’ve gotten great advice from the Department of Health and they’ve been able to address the matter,” Scott said. “Now, I think they’re managing very well and the feedback has been good.”

What to do with teens who are beginning to show symptoms is still unclear for many providers. For some smaller shelters, it can be difficult to isolate them. Powlovich likens the shelter size to a typical New York City-sized apartment — some shared living spaces have only one bathroom. 

Someone that’s supposed to be quarantined … they still are coming out to a common area that everyone shares, using a bathroom that everyone shares,” she said. “Raising a lot of the same concerns about what this looks like for anyone living in smaller living quarters.” 

Powlovich said it is up to the DYCD to figure out how to provide a safe space to isolate people who are showing symptoms, as well as provide staffing for these isolation centers. 

Scott said DYCD has been working with the mayor’s office this week to look into other types of isolation locations. In the meantime, he says sheltering in place is working and that most shelters do have an additional bathroom to spare for quarantining residents. 

CORE shelters haven’t had any positive cases yet, Phipps said, but were able to successfully quarantine a young client who had been showing flu-like symptoms about a week ago. After the client was returned from the hospital with a flu diagnosis, the CORE facility quarantined the client in her own room and gave her a separate bathroom as well as a small refrigerator. 

It’s unclear how shelters are vetting people who come in and out. Powlovich said she believes shelters are screening people for symptoms as they come in and flagging them to be quarantined or hospitalized. But as many people can be infected with the virus for up to 14 days without showing symptoms, it can be hard to track or monitor whether COVID-19 is entering these shelters. 

Symptom of larger problem 

As youth shelters and DYCD continue to adjust as this pandemic unfolds, Hofmeister urges the city to think about the resources it currently affords homeless and runaway youth. 

Before a settlement last November, homeless youth did not have a right to age-appropriate shelter in New York City. Advocates won a long-fought battle with the city last fall for 16- and 17-year-olds to be guaranteed space in youth shelters. 

It was a huge win for homeless teens and advocates. After Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded DYCD shelters, there are now nearly 800 beds for runaways and homeless youth. But COVID-19 is laying bare another challenge facing these teens. 

The Department of Youth and Child Services funds more than 1,200 community-based organizations, serving more than 337,500 New Yorkers through their programs, according to the 2019 fiscal report from DYCD. But only a small portion of this revolves around homeless and runaway youth. 

Hofmeister says DYCD’s response in this crisis highlights the agency’s tendency to put youth homeless services on the backburner.

“This is a symptom of a larger problem,” she said. “The reality is that DYCD may not be focused on this particular part of their portfolio.”

Hofmeister said she believes agency directors like Scott are doing the best they can, but that the city should either provide more resources to the agency or take into consideration whether DYCD should be controlling homeless youth shelters to begin with. 

“The city needs to step up and decide that homeless young people deserve the same things as regular homeless people,” she said. 

How to help 

Youth shelters always need hand sanitizer and other toiletries, plus gloves, masks and thermometers, Scott said. Powlovich also suggested gift cards to food delivery services like Seamless. Scott said those interested in donating to shelters can call 646-343-6496 to get connected with providers and determine a safe way to drop off supplies. 

This is a continuing story. If you are living or working in a youth shelter and would like to contribute to our coverage, email rachelrippetoe@gmail.com or Laurencostantino@gmail.com

This story has been updated.

Follow our COVID-19 coverage on both our websites.

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New 3-D view of methane tracks sources

NASA’s new 3-dimensional portrait of methane concentrations shows the world’s second largest contributor to greenhouse warming, the diversity of sources on the ground, and the behavior of the gas as it moves through the atmosphere. Combining multiple data sets from emissions inventories, including fossil fuel, agricultural, biomass burning and biofuels, and simulations of wetland sources into a high-resolution computer model, researchers now have an additional tool for understanding this complex gas and its role in Earth’s carbon cycle, atmospheric composition, and climate system.

Child Care For Essential Workers a Priority in New York, Washington

afterschool: Big group of people with masks and one isolated sick child with the flu

Luis Louro/Shutterstock

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In New York and Washington, the two states hardest hit by COVID-19, officials are working with after-school and child care providers to make sure essential workers can find care for their children, even as providers struggle with huge financial and safety issues. 

About 100 “regional enrichment centers” have opened in New York City to provide a place for children of people in critical occupations, said Kelly Sturgis, executive director of New York State Network for Youth Success, the state network of after-school providers. These centers can serve several thousand children, she said.

New York City closed its schools on March 16 along with city-funded after-school programs. Since then, after-school sites have been reopened as regional enrichment centers, giving priority to the children of health care workers, law enforcement officers and others in critical jobs.

Throughout the rest of the state, where schools are also closed, sites run by organizations like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs are being used for critical child care.

The list of essential workers released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo includes the human services workers who staff child care centers, Sturgis said. These workers are very concerned about how to keep themselves and the children safe from infection, she said.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” Sturgis said. The goal is to limit the number of children in each group to 12. And although cleaning and disinfecting is a priority, providers are afraid that cleaning supplies will run out, she said.

Waiving the rules 

Normal rules that govern child care and after-school programs — such as requiring background checks for staff — are being waived. 

“Regulations are being lifted to help cover emergency situations,” Sturgis said. The concern is that there will not be enough people to staff these sites, she said.

“[Officials] are thinking outside the box,” she said, but loosening regulations raises safety issues for her.

Schools in Washington state are also closed, which has a major impact on staff at health care facilities, fire and police departments, according to the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. School districts have been asked to provide child care at no cost to health care workers and first responders.

Many after-school programs in the state have closed: A rough survey of 156 after-school providers by School’s Out Washington, the state’s after-school network, showed that fewer than one-third were still open on Monday, said David Beard, the organization’s policy and advocacy director.

In order to provide needed care, the state is waiving some rules for child care providers, Beard said. Among other things, it’s looking at allowing unusual locations to be used, such as summer camp sites.

The state Department of Health is recommending that sites create greater distance among students through measures such as finding larger venues, staggering staff and student schedules and modifying seating arrangements. In addition to setting up hygiene stations and having frequent hand washing, providers are advised to increase ventilation and to prop doors open to avoid touching them. Regular temperature checks and symptom screening are also advised.

Workers fear for their safety

However child care workers told The Seattle Times they were very afraid for their health. They said kids cough in their faces and that the state’s directions for disinfecting surfaces aren’t sufficient around small children, who constantly put things in their mouths. They said there are no directives to wear protective gear such as masks.

To top things off, another enormous issue for workers is how to pay for their own health care.

Most after-school providers are part time, Sturgis said. “Most don’t have health insurance,” she said.  

Washington has opened up its state health care exchange so that people can buy health insurance outside the normal enrollment period. The cost may still be out of reach, Beard said.

As after-school and child care sites close — even temporarily — workers fear they won’t get paid and that they will lose their jobs. For example, Whatcom Boys & Girls Club in Whatcom County, Wash., had to let part-time staff go, Beard said. The 21st Century after-school program at the Northwest Community Action Center in Yakima, Wash., was not able to pay its part-time staff, Beard said. 

A few measures offer support. The Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families will pay providers who receive state child care subsidies through April, even if they have to shut down. After-school providers that contract with New York City will continue to be paid even if they have suspended services.

Another uncertainty is whether the largest federal funding stream for after-school programs will continue to flow during COVID-19 closures. The U.S. Department of Education has told states nothing about continuing 21st Century funding while programs are closed, said Erik Peterson, vice president of policy for the Afterschool Alliance.

In Congress, tense negotiations are under way on a third COVID-19 relief bill that could include support for the education sector, including after-school and child care providers. No firm compromise had been reached by early Tuesday.

Proposals in a bill by Democratic senators Patty Murray of Washington and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York could be a model for bolstering early childhood education programs, as well as lessening the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on teachers, students and school.

Beard said after-school and child care providers need support now so they will be able to reopen in the future.

“We want to make sure the child care business still exists,” he said. “We don’t want people laid off. We don’t want to lose a whole work force right now.”

The post Child Care For Essential Workers a Priority in New York, Washington appeared first on Youth Today.


Child Care For Essential Workers a Priority in New York, Washington

afterschool: Big group of people with masks and one isolated sick child with the flu

Luis Louro/Shutterstock

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In New York and Washington, the two states hardest hit by COVID-19, officials are working with after-school and child care providers to make sure essential workers can find care for their children, even as providers struggle with huge financial and safety issues. 

About 100 “regional enrichment centers” have opened in New York City to provide a place for children of people in critical occupations, said Kelly Sturgis, executive director of New York State Network for Youth Success, the state network of after-school providers. These centers can serve several thousand children, she said.

New York City closed its schools on March 16 along with city-funded after-school programs. Since then, after-school sites have been reopened as regional enrichment centers, giving priority to the children of health care workers, law enforcement officers and others in critical jobs.

Throughout the rest of the state, where schools are also closed, sites run by organizations like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs are being used for critical child care.

The list of essential workers released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo includes the human services workers who staff child care centers, Sturgis said. These workers are very concerned about how to keep themselves and the children safe from infection, she said.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” Sturgis said. The goal is to limit the number of children in each group to 12. And although cleaning and disinfecting is a priority, providers are afraid that cleaning supplies will run out, she said.

Waiving the rules 

Normal rules that govern child care and after-school programs — such as requiring background checks for staff — are being waived. 

“Regulations are being lifted to help cover emergency situations,” Sturgis said. The concern is that there will not be enough people to staff these sites, she said.

“[Officials] are thinking outside the box,” she said, but loosening regulations raises safety issues for her.

Schools in Washington state are also closed, which has a major impact on staff at health care facilities, fire and police departments, according to the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. School districts have been asked to provide child care at no cost to health care workers and first responders.

Many after-school programs in the state have closed: A rough survey of 156 after-school providers by School’s Out Washington, the state’s after-school network, showed that fewer than one-third were still open on Monday, said David Beard, the organization’s policy and advocacy director.

In order to provide needed care, the state is waiving some rules for child care providers, Beard said. Among other things, it’s looking at allowing unusual locations to be used, such as summer camp sites.

The state Department of Health is recommending that sites create greater distance among students through measures such as finding larger venues, staggering staff and student schedules and modifying seating arrangements. In addition to setting up hygiene stations and having frequent hand washing, providers are advised to increase ventilation and to prop doors open to avoid touching them. Regular temperature checks and symptom screening are also advised.

Workers fear for their safety

However child care workers told The Seattle Times they were very afraid for their health. They said kids cough in their faces and that the state’s directions for disinfecting surfaces aren’t sufficient around small children, who constantly put things in their mouths. They said there are no directives to wear protective gear such as masks.

To top things off, another enormous issue for workers is how to pay for their own health care.

Most after-school providers are part time, Sturgis said. “Most don’t have health insurance,” she said.  

Washington has opened up its state health care exchange so that people can buy health insurance outside the normal enrollment period. The cost may still be out of reach, Beard said.

As after-school and child care sites close — even temporarily — workers fear they won’t get paid and that they will lose their jobs. For example, Whatcom Boys & Girls Club in Whatcom County, Wash., had to let part-time staff go, Beard said. The 21st Century after-school program at the Northwest Community Action Center in Yakima, Wash., was not able to pay its part-time staff, Beard said. 

A few measures offer support. The Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families will pay providers who receive state child care subsidies through April, even if they have to shut down. After-school providers that contract with New York City will continue to be paid even if they have suspended services.

Another uncertainty is whether the largest federal funding stream for after-school programs will continue to flow during COVID-19 closures. The U.S. Department of Education has told states nothing about continuing 21st Century funding while programs are closed, said Erik Peterson, vice president of policy for the Afterschool Alliance.

In Congress, tense negotiations are under way on a third COVID-19 relief bill that could include support for the education sector, including after-school and child care providers. No firm compromise had been reached by early Tuesday.

Proposals in a bill by Democratic senators Patty Murray of Washington and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York could be a model for bolstering early childhood education programs, as well as lessening the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on teachers, students and school.

Beard said after-school and child care providers need support now so they will be able to reopen in the future.

“We want to make sure the child care business still exists,” he said. “We don’t want people laid off. We don’t want to lose a whole work force right now.”

The post Child Care For Essential Workers a Priority in New York, Washington appeared first on Youth Today.