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Poughkeepsie … Nearly 100 youth from communities throughout Dutchess County took part in the “Path to Promise” Youth Leadership Summit at Dutchess Community College this past Saturday. The summit gave the young men and women the opportunity to learn more about the “Path to Promise,” the County’s ongoing initiative to help local youth reach their potential, and give their input about the resource needs in their respective communities; a video highlighting the summit is available online.
Students learned more about the structure of the “Path to Promise,” which is analyzing the community programs and services for children throughout Dutchess County — provided by both public and private entities — as well as gaps that may exist, guiding the coordination of future planning. The summit was Dutchess County’s latest outreach to youth, having already spoken to more than 400 about the “Path to Promise” in the past year.
County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “Every child throughout Dutchess County deserves the opportunity to succeed, and providing them the resources necessary to reach their potential is our shared responsibility. We thank the many young men and women who came to our summit, and we value their input as we formulate our next steps along our ‘Path to Promise’ and implement the recommended action plan.”
Attendees at Saturday’s summit provided their thoughts about the needs for their future in group discussion, took part in exercises to gauge their interest in several “domains” that impact them – education, material basics, safety, family/relationships, mental health, and physical health – and how they would prioritize them, and addressed their individual communities’ concerns and gaps. They also learned about the college experience during a panel discussion by local high school graduates who attend several local colleges. IBM supplied additional funding for the summit, providing event sweatshirts and door prizes for those in attendance.
For those unable to attend the summit, there will still be an opportunity to provide input. Dutchess County is seeking youth, parents and caregivers to participate in an online questionnaire; participation is completely voluntary.
Sabrina Jaar Marzouka, Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services (DCFS), said, “Our ‘Path to Promise’ is an ongoing, living process, designed to help our youth reach their fullest potential — not only today, but for generations to come. For months, we have listened to youth throughout Dutchess County — at public forums, during classroom visits, and most recently, our Youth Leadership Summit — and we are earnest in our desire to have our young men and women shape the implementation of their path.”
This past May, Dutchess County held numerous public hearings in several regions; each region hosted separate public forums for youth, parents and stakeholders to share their input. In recent weeks, volunteers spoke to students in seventh-grade social studies and 12th-grade Participation in Government classes in numerous local school districts about the “Path to Promise,” leading into Saturday’s summit.
Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Louise McLoughlin, a member of the “Path to Promise” Change Team who helped coordinate the Youth Leadership Summit, said, “We are proud to have brought together Dutchess County’s future leaders to give their feedback about the ‘Path to Promise.’ We appreciate the participants for their time and opinions, and we will take their input into consideration as our plan moves forward.”
County Executive Molinaro announced the “Path to Promise” as part of his 2017 State of the County address. Dutchess County subsequently contracted with nationally recognized industry leader Public Consultant Group (PCG) to assess youth services throughout the County and create an innovative framework for helping the County’s young men and women become successful members of their community.
As part of the assessment, all youth services provided by Dutchess County Government were reviewed, including organizational charts, budgets, performance or outcome reports, and interviews with personnel from the various departments who provide youth services, including the departments of Behavioral and Community Health, Probation and Community Corrections, Planning and Development, and DCFS. PCG examined how the departments share information and collaborate, identify strengths and weaknesses in the current system, as well as duplication or gaps in services. PCG also performed 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.
Early next year, based on research, assessment, analysis and input from the community, PCG will provide the County with a comprehensive report, which will include data about available resources and infrastructure, an analysis of any gaps in services, a review of the County’s Division of Youth Services, including potential recommendations for staffing needs, and comprehensive strategies for the delivery of youth services for County, municipalities and service agencies.