Since 2012, aggressive recruitment efforts by United Way of Palm Beach County’s Mentor Center has led to more local mentor-mentee matches – and 800 fewer children waiting for a mentor. Currently, 39 formal mentor programs in the county (including 15 directly funded by Children’s Services Council and monitored by United Way) oversee more than 4,500 matches.
Despite its efforts to recruit more mentors, especially male mentors of color, more than 1,200 Palm Beach County children remain on the wait list. That’s why, at its most recent meeting, Children’s Services Council’s board proclaimed January as Mentoring Awareness Month.
Studies show that youth engaged in mentoring programs are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college and 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school, according to the National Mentoring Partnership. Moreover, mentored youth are 46 percent less likely to start using drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking.
In other mentoring news, MENTOR CON 2019, a national mentoring conference, will be held in Palm Beach County for the first time. The four-day event, to take place in June, is coordinated by the National Mentoring Partnership.
In other business
Data: Staff shared an analysis of disaggregated birth outcomes and child abuse data. Examining data by race/ethnicity helps tease out areas of future study to determine root causes of racial disparities in children’s health and wellness. Staff noted that across all racial subgroups (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, Haitian), families served by CSC-funded programs had a lower percentage of preterm births (before 37 weeks gestation) and low birthweight births (less than 5 1/2 lbs.) compared to all births in the county. In general, CSC also observed fewer racial disparities, a smaller gap between Black and White babies, in both preterm and low birthweight outcomes.
In the last outcome, fewer than 5 percent of both CSC and county racial subgroups experienced child abuse and neglect. CSC also observed fewer racial disparities, a smaller gap between Black and White children, in percentages of child abuse/neglect. It is important to note, staff added, that CSC serves a higher risk population, including children who may have been referred to CSC-funded programs following child welfare involvement with their families.
Staff hope this kind of deep dive into data will help CSC develop structures to engage community members, while increasing provider knowledge around racial equity, implicit bias and institutional racism.
Great Ideas: In an end-of-year review, CSC staff reported that 24 of the 26 Great Ideas Initiative 2017 recipients completed their projects on time and within budget. CSC granted extensions to two organizations because of unexpected staffing changes. Overall, the GII impact on the community was amazing – with county high school students meeting with state legislators to learn how government works; youth embracing their artistic abilities; parents and therapists training in a ground-breaking treatment for children living with debilitating disabilities; parents learning how to bond and attach with their newborns to enhance protective factors; and so much more.
Summer Camp: Staff and providers shared results from the 2018 Summer Camp Scholarship Program, which covers tuition and fees for summer camp for children in need. Those who are eligible either reside in families with low income, have special needs, are homeless or are involved in the state’s child welfare or juvenile justice systems.
In 2018, the county (which administers the scholarship program with the majority of funding from CSC) received 7,340-plus applications – more than double the number of applications received two years earlier. Staff attribute the increase in applications to a change in the process, which made it easier for families to apply online. In total 3,931 children received scholarships in 2018, a significant jump percent from the year before. Of those children, 64 percent were homeless and another 20 percent were in foster care.
The increase in scholarships led CSC and the county’s Youth Services Department to increase funding for the program. Staff also shared some lessons learned with the Council to ensure this year’s scholarship program runs as smoothly as possible.
About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County
The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.
For more information about Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, please visit us at https://www.cscpbc.org or contact Shana Cooper, Public Information Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561.374.7570.