Lower Shore Scores Grants For Youth, Family Programs

BERLIN — The Maryland Governor’s Office for Children this week announced over $15 million in grant awards to Local Management Boards across the state aimed at protecting children and stabilizing families and a large portion is heading to the Lower Shore.

The Maryland Children’s Cabinet, through the Governor’s Office for Children, announced the $15.1 million in grants to Local Management Boards (LMBs). Located in all 23 counties and Baltimore City, the LMBs bring together resources at the local level to strengthen services to children, youth and families. The non-competitive grants will be used to fund over 100 child- and family-focused programs in fiscal year 2017.

Through an extensive planning process that involved input from hundreds of community members in every jurisdiction, the LMBs identified strategies that will address critical needs for children, youth and families statewide. By implementing programs and promising strategies that achieve measureable results, the LMBs position Maryland as a leader in developing solutions to issues that have a far-reaching impact for children and families in states and communities across the country.

“I tasked my Children’s Cabinet to focus specifically on working to ensure Maryland’s struggling families are on a pathway to economic stability and opportunity,” Governor Larry Hogan said this week. “From implementing anti-hunger initiatives and providing job readiness programs and parenting workshops, these grants maximize state resources and enable our LMBs to assist thousands of families throughout the state.”

The programs and strategies proposed by the LMBs include interventions for some of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations including families and children impacted by caregiver incarceration, disconnected youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working or attending school, children and youth who are food-insecure and youth who are experiencing homelessness.

“The Governor’s Office for Children recognizes and appreciates the unique role of the Local Management Boards in understanding local concerns and developing programs for children, youth and families,” said Governor’s Office for Children Executive Director Arlene Lee. “The LMBs are the ‘boots on the ground’ in our communities and we are grateful to be able to fund so many promising programs in the coming year.”

Those “boots on the ground” LMBs on the Lower Shore will seek a significant economic boost from the $15 million-plus earmarked for community and family stability programs. For example, the Worcester County Initiative to Preserve Families is set to receive $537,947, while the Wicomico Partnership for Families and Children will receive $764,487. Somerset County will receive $288,755.

Among the programs in Worcester set to receive grant funding is the Youth as One initiative through its Say it Straight and Youth Mental First Aid programs. Say it Straight promotes social skills, self-confidence, awareness and responsibility while preventing risky behavior such as substance abuse, violence of sexual behavior. Youth Mental First Aid teaches community members how to help youth experiencing a mental health crisis.

Another Worcester program targeted for grant funding is the Cricket Center, a non-profit children’s advocacy center, which provides a friendly, safe and supportive environment for abused and neglected children. A team approach is used to coordinate investigations and interventions for each case, expediting the child’s time in the legal system.

Worcester will also receive funding for its Integrated Services for Child Mistreatment program, coordinated between the county health department and the department of social services. Also receiving funding will be the Service Center, a walk-in single point of access facility serving as a portal for integrated and coordinated health care. Worcester will also receive funding for its Comprehensive Parenting program, which includes nurturing families, nurturing fathers, guiding good choices and parenting wisely programs aimed at reducing child mistreatment by improving parenting skills.

In Wicomico, several similar programs are set to receive over $764,000 from the state grants. For example, the Local Access Mechanism assists families in gaining access to services. The program targets the Safe Streets area and provides targeted mobile resources to ensure familiarity with the services available. Wicomico will also receive funding for Project Seek, which is designed to address the impact of incarceration and other risk factors associated with delinquency and criminal behavior. Wicomico will receive funding for its Disconnected Youth Job Readiness program, which connects misplaced youth with certified Junior Achievement job coaches.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.