In April 2015, Governor Larry Hogan tasked the Governor’s Office for Children and Maryland’s Children’s Cabinet with a series of initiatives aligning with his goal of an economically secure Maryland. By coordinating efforts at the State level and providing technical assistance to Maryland’s Local Management Boards, the Governor’s Office for Children will focus on improving child well-being in Maryland through the following strategic goals:
Reduce the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children, Families, and Communities
Rates of incarceration have risen dramatically since 1980, both nationally and in Maryland. As the number of incarcerated adults increases, so do the number of children and families impacted by its effects. It is estimated that on any given day, approximately 90,000 children in Maryland have a parent under some form of correctional supervision – parole, probation, jail or prison.
The impact of incarceration on children and families includes family instability, higher rates of child welfare involvement, and post-traumatic effects such as hypervigilance, feelings of despair and powerlessness, and poor academic outcomes. The goal of reducing the impact of incarceration requires focusing on proven strategies for improving economic stability and future economic success for the children and families of the incarcerated.
Learn more about our efforts to reduce the impact of incarceration on children, families, and communities.
Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth
Disconnected youth are teenagers and young adults who are between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. Some are ready to work but unable to find a position; others need to work but face individual or systemic barriers due to transitioning from foster care or juvenile justice facilities, homelessness, early parenthood, and other challenges. The diverse nature of the population suggests that multiple options and approaches will be required to effectively address the scope of the problem.
Approximately 94,000, or one in 10, Maryland youth are disconnected, with the highest percentages located in Baltimore City and Caroline, Dorchester, Washington and Worcester Counties. Ten Maryland jurisdictions have disconnection rates higher than the national average. The Governor’s Office for Children analyzes Statewide policies that impact youth disconnection, identifies gaps in services, and provides information on promising strategies for reconnection.
Learn more about our efforts to reconnect youth and young adults in Maryland.
Reduce Childhood Hunger
In 2008, the Governor’s Office for Children and a national non-profit, Share Our Strength, launched the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland in an effort to connect more eligible children and families to federal nutrition programs. Over the last several years, the Partnership has identified and implemented successful strategies, particularly in support of the School Breakfast Program, where Share Our Strength and other organizations have provided technical assistance and grants to schools and Local Education Agencies interested in adopting alternative breakfast models like breakfast in the classroom.
From School Year 2007-2008 through School Year 2013-2014, participation in the School Breakfast Program has increased 89%, with nearly 77,000 more children receiving a free or reduced-price breakfast every morning and tens of millions of additional federal dollars leveraged to support the program. While Maryland has made progress in connecting families and children to benefits, there is still work to be done to improve program delivery, streamline eligibility determination for multiple programs, and eliminate the duplication of effort by multiple State Agencies.
Learn more about how we are working to end childhood hunger in Maryland.
Reduce Youth Homelessness
Maryland has seen a recent increase in homeless youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and who are between the ages of 14 and 25, a population known as unaccompanied homeless youth. This vulnerable population is more likely to become disconnected and socially disengaged, at risk of physical and sexual abuse, and reports higher rates of mental, behavioral, and physical health issues than their peers. As a member of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Governor’s Office for Children works to coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies to reduce youth homelessness and will be providing ongoing technical assistance to Local Management Boards tackling the issue in their communities.
Learn more about our efforts to reduce youth homelessness in Maryland.
The Governor’s Office for Children has identified key strategies with implications for all four of the initiatives Governor Hogan has charged to the Office and the Children’s Cabinet. As a result, the Governor’s Office for Children is providing additional technical assistance to Maryland’s Local Management Boards in two key areas that will assist in assessing the needs and creating a plan to improve child well-being in their communities.
For organizations serving children and families, it is important to engage youth in conversations not only to gauge which issues are of greatest importance to them, but also to build the most effective and useful interventions possible in improving child well-being. To encourage youth civic engagement, the Governor’s Office for Children coordinates the Maryland Youth Advisory Council and provides assistance to Maryland’s Local Management Boards to ensure the youth voice is considered in their work.
Learn more about youth engagement and how it can be used to address our key initiatives.
Maternal and early childhood home visiting is a voluntary family support strategy that can enhance parenting and promote healthy growth and development of young children. Focused home visiting programs are powerful tools to improve maternal and child health, to help connect families to essential services, to support economic self-sufficiency and to prepare children for success in school.
Home visiting can be a vehicle to help Maryland jurisdictions tackle the Governor’s Office for Children’s four strategic goals.
- Forty six percent of the pregnant and parenting women enrolled in home visiting programs in Fiscal Year 2015 were 24 years old and younger. Many home visiting sites already assist young moms to complete high school and secure a position in the workforce.
- Most programs partner with the local Women’s, Infants and Children agency and other local resources to help families secure nutritional support.
- Home visitors help families in distress to enrich their assets: connections to health insurance and healthcare, continual development of healthy parenting skills in spite of often difficult circumstances, and support of family development from the prenatal period through child age three to five years old.
Through an enhanced focus and strengthened community partnerships, Maryland’s maternal and early childhood home visiting programs can make a tremendous impact to improve outcomes for the Governor’s Office for Children priority populations.
To learn more Maryland’s home visiting efforts, please visit the Department of Health’s home visiting webpage.