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Molinaro’s 2018 Budget Continues Focus on Youth Success and Empowerment
Path to Promise Initiative Now Underway with Industry Expert PCG
Poughkeepsie, NY… In his 2018 Executive Budget, to be presented on October 31st, 2017, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro will continue Dutchess County Government’s commitment to youth development and empowerment. The 2018 budget proposal includes new grant-funded positions to improve success for children in foster care; continues the County’s successful partnership with the Boys & Girls Club program at the New Hope Community Center; and will implement recommendations from industry expert Public Consulting Group, with which the County has recently been engaged to begin County Executive Molinaro’s “Path to Promise” initiative.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive. We are firmly committed to ensuring Dutchess County kids have every chance to grow, learn and succeed. These new positions and initiatives are the latest embodiment of Dutchess County’s pledge to provide our youth with hope for a bright future. Dutchess County stands with them, supports them and will do all we can to help them achieve their greatest promise.”
The Department of Community & Family Services (DCFS) will take advantage of new grant opportunities to assist children involved in foster care. With a grant from Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), DCFS will partner with the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie for a new Adoption Recruiter, who will identify homes for children who have traditionally been difficult to find adoptive families for, specifically those who are 9 years old or older and have been in foster care for more than two years. Research has shown children served in WWK programs are 1.7 times more likely to be adopted.
DCFS will also hire a new Peer Outreach Coordinator utilizing a grant from the Redlich Horwitz Foundation. The Peer Outreach Coordinator, a parent whose children had been previously placed in foster care and since reunited, will serve as a mentor and advocate for others whose children have been removed from their care due to substance abuse or other issues. The Peer Outreach Coordinator will work with parents to identify and engage extended family members to place the children with, and who can provide a support system as the parent undergoes programming and treatment to address their issues. The Peer Outreach Coordinator will mentor individuals through their treatment and recovery path to help them be successfully reunited with their children.
“Too often parents, who are dealing with substance abuse issues and have had their children placed in foster care, feel alone and alienated. Our Peer Outreach Coordinator has been in their shoes and will be the ambassador of hope helping them rebuild family support systems and get through the challenges of recovery to ultimately be reunited with their children,” said DCFS Commissioner Sabrina Marzouka.
The 2018 budget will include continued funding for the Boys & Girls Club and its comprehensive programs targeting the academic, social and behavioral development of youth in the City of Poughkeepsie. The program, hosted at the New Hope Community Center serves as a hub of services for youth and families and employs evidence-based programming for at-risk youth including after-school programs, summer camps and a teen drop in center which operates on Friday from 6pm to 11pm and Saturday from 4pm to 11pm. These programs began in spring 2017 and have been very well received by the community. It is expected Boys & Girls Club will serve 200 children and teens in 2018.
Path to Promise
County Executive Molinaro announced his “Path to Promise” initiative in his 2017 State of the County Address, outlining the goal of a comprehensive analysis of existing youth services and development of a youth empowerment action plan. The Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services (DCFS) has contracted with Public Consulting Group (PCG) Human Services, an industry-leading management consulting firm, to undertake the analysis. PCG will examine and analyze how youth services are provided within Dutchess County in a two-phased approach, looking internally at services provided directly by Dutchess County Government, as well as services provided throughout the community by various organizations and agencies, and develop an outcome-based action plan.
The research and analysis, which will be done with a breakdown of services for various age groups from infancy to early adulthood, will culminate in a specific action plan focused on the Developmental Assets to ensure linkages are created in the services available from one age group to the next, as well as inclusion for youth with special needs. The action plan will include tools to measure outcomes and success, and will be critical in guiding future youth initiatives and funding in Dutchess County, including funding committed in the capital plan for a youth services center.
PCG is already underway with Phase I of the initiative, conducting a Government Youth Services Assessment. As part of the assessment, all youth services provided by Dutchess County Government will be reviewed, including organizational charts, budgets, performance or outcome reports, as well as interviews with personnel from the various departments who provide youth services including the Departments of Behavioral and Community Health, Probation & Community Corrections, Planning and Development, as well as DCFS. PCG will be looking at how the departments share information and collaborate, identify strengths and weaknesses in the current system, as well as duplication or gaps in services. PCG will then provide a full report of the analysis, including a service matrix and recommendations for administrative improvements as well as better coordination of service for greater efficiency and improved outcomes. Phase I is expected to be complete by early 2018.
Phase II of the initiative will be a similar assessment of community-based youth services, with the goal of providing a detailed picture of the area’s youth services, identifying service delivery gaps and highlighting opportunities for increased alignment and collaboration between services. PCG will identify and recommend best practices and evidence-based models for improving services, as well as identify new services that may be benefical in Dutchess County. Phase II is expected to begin by the end of this year and be completed by the end of 2018.
There will be extensive public outreach throughout the process as the community is asked to share information about what services exist, who is served, how well the needs of the community are met, and where new services may be needed. A countywide Youth Summit is also planned for late 2018 to help corroborate findings and recommendations and ensuring youth buy-in.
Dutchess County Legislator Kari Rieser, a member of the Family and Human Services Committee, said, “This assessment is particularly important because it will capture the voices of youth around the county to help inform our future programs and initiatives impacting youth. I look forward to engaging young people throughout our community for their input and feedback and am particularly excited for the Youth Summit next fall.”
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