Council Update: Council celebrates Mentoring Awareness Month

While the number of Palm Beach County children waiting for a mentor has decreased 23 percent from last year, more than 830 children remain on the wait list – seeking the friendship and guidance of a trusted adult.

Mentoring measurably improves the lives of children and families in Palm Beach County, with a strong impact on school attendance, and a reduction in risky behavior. Youth engaged in an active mentoring relationship 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. Youth who are mentored also are 46 percent less likely to start using drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking.

In Palm Beach County, about 5,000 children are assigned to mentors through the United Way of Palm Beach County’s Mentor Center. Of those, nearly 1,800 are matched with mentors through 23 programs directly funded by Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. The Mentor Center is the only Florida affiliate of the National Mentoring Partnership and is one of just three nationally that awards grants and monitors subcontracts.

In other business

Doula Scholarships: Beginning January 2021, CSC is offering Doula Care Scholarship opportunities to Black birthing professionals in partnership with Community Calling Inc. The goal is to increase capacity of Black doulas and access doula care for Black women and families in Palm Beach County, to improve birth outcomes among Black families. Doulas are non-medically trained practitioners who provide one-to-one, continuous care to expectant mothers and families before, during and shortly after childbirth. In Palm Beach County, there are tragic racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Black women died at a rate of more than 3.5 times than white women; Black babies, meanwhile died almost 2.5 times more often than white babies.

According to March of Dimes, a racial and cultural match between doula and client is a consistent predictor of better communication and can promote a greater understanding of the social, cultural and economic factors that positively affect health equity. For the2020-21 fiscal year, this project will offer up to 20 scholarships, not to exceed $775 per scholarship, for a total of $15,500 to cover the cost of the course, certification and technical assistance.

Equity Presentation: To continue the conversation with the Council on racial and ethnic equity, CSC CEO Lisa Williams-Taylor presented Palm Beach County child well-being data on disparities in the areas of health, child welfare, education, juvenile justice and economics. The data show that local Children of Color are at disproportionate risk for poor outcomes in all areas – limiting their opportunity for success. Williams-Taylor noted the data is only the starting point for a deeper conversation about equity, and numerous systems’ roles in continuing to burden Black and Brown children and families.

Financial Reporting: For the eighth year in a row, CSC earned the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. This is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.

Lead Agency Structure: Beginning fiscal year 2021-2022, CSC will change the lead agency structure it uses to provide oversight to subcontracted agencies. Currently CSC contracts with seven lead agencies. Of those, three are considered Level One lead agencies, providing the highest and most expensive level of oversight to five subcontractors. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, those five subcontractors will report directly to CSC for oversight, capacity building and collaboration. The structural change is not a reflection of the lead agencies’ performances.

School Readiness: Dr. Debra Robinson, a Palm Beach County School Board member and CSC Council member, presented 2020 data on kindergarten and third grade literacy. The data – disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender and economic status – emphasized persistent disparities in the education system. More discussion is expected about root causes, and solutions, at future council meetings.

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.

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