Health and Family Services Cabinet
Governor Fletcher Announces Funding for Warren County Youth Promise Program; Program provides early intervention services for at-risk youth
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2007) – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced $75,000 in state funding to launch an after-school project to help at-risk teens and pre-teens in Warren County.
The Youth Promise Program for teens, which includes the “Smart Moves” research-based program, will begin this fall at the Boys and Girls Club of Bowling Green. The club will receive $75,000 for its teen after-school efforts.
The project began in April in Barren and McCracken counties and will expand to three more counties later this year.
“This effort gives vulnerable Kentucky teenagers a strong foundation to build better adult lives,” Governor Fletcher said. “So many youth at this age who have fragile family backgrounds will get the additional support they need through this project.”
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ (CHFS) Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) is funding the early intervention project, which is one facet of DCBS’ Partners in Prevention initiative. Partners in Prevention focuses on strengthening community partnerships, enhancing prevention efforts and treatment for clients, and increasing case management to care for vulnerable families, children and youth. These programs are supported through the community partnerships of DCBS’ regional networks of local service providers, state agencies, volunteers and faith-based organizations.
In coordination with other state agencies, DCBS is piloting the after-school projects for middle and high school age young people who are at risk of potentially life-altering situations, such as premarital parenting, alcohol and substance use, difficulty in school, and foster care or juvenile justice system placements.
Data trends in the past 24 months have shown a spike in the rates that children 12 and older in difficult circumstances enter the foster care/child welfare system for the first time. This trend has many potential causes, including families dealing with substance abuse issues. Eighty percent of families involved in the state’s child welfare system are struggling with substance abuse.
The Youth Promise Program will target middle and high school students ages 10 to 18 who are at risk of experiencing alcohol and substance abuse, out-of-home care, school delinquency and teen parenthood. Risk factors include low income, low literacy skills, mental or physical disability, homelessness and being a foster child.
CHFS Deputy Secretary Tom Emberton Jr. said the project is a preventive measure for teens who face issues related to drugs, alcohol and school truancy as they come into maturity.
“The Youth Promise Program is similar to the S.T.A.R.T. Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team program in its focus on strengthening community partnerships and enhancing targeted services for clients,” he said. “It gives young adults an opportunity to learn the health and life skills they need to resist unsafe situations and behaviors. This initiative can help instill discipline and decision-making abilities in teens whose parents are unable to positively guide them because of substance abuse and other issues.”
Shannon Stockstill, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Warren County, said this project is intended to provide long-term benefits to a vulnerable population.
“We expect pre-teens and teens to leave the program stronger and healthier and be able to stand up to the pressures they face,” she said. “This program offers the tools to help them rise above a potentially risky situation.”
Stockstill cited the program’s “Triple Play” initiative, which she called “a comprehensive program of the mind, body and soul.” It includes lessons on starting healthy habits like eating right and how that can help teens get ahead in life.
The project also will implement the Smart Moves curriculum and Five Promises programs.
Smart Moves – Skills, Mastery and Resistance Training – is a life-skills program developed by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. It uses a team approach and encourages individual participation to educate teens about the problems of drug and alcohol use and premature sex.
The Five Promises are defined by the nonprofit America’s Promise – the Alliance for Youth as a framework to shape children’s development. The promises are: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others. Research by America’s Promise shows that the more promises young people have in their lives, the more successful they will be.
Participant recruitment will be in coordination with local organizations and partners, including representatives from the courts, family resource and youth services centers and schools.
DCBS will provide ongoing administrative and technical support and training to the local organizations that will manage the after school projects.
For more information about Partners in Prevention, log on to chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/partnersinprevention. To learn more about the Youth Promise Program, log on to chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/youthpromise.
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