More Community Help Programs Eyed

SNOW HILL –  The Worcester County Local Management Board will seek proposals for four new programs following approval from the Worcester County Commissioners this week.

On Tuesday, the commissioners approved the management board’s plan to issue request for proposals for four new programs. The programs, according to Jessica Sexauer, director of the board, would address needs and gaps in the community. Funding for the new initiatives would come from the board through the support of the Governor’s Office for Children.

“I think this is worthwhile,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said. “I hope you get the grant money.”

Sexauer said the management board was seeking proposals four new programs. One program would provide youth in grades 6-12 who are at risk for truancy with a supportive adult figure.  Another would target disconnected youth who were not in school or working with job readiness skills and resources. The other two programs would reduce the impact of incarceration on children and establish a home visiting program to provide support for pregnant mothers.

Bertino highlighted some of the statistics in Sexauer’s report. Data for the county shows that last year, 42% of the county’s students received free and reduced meals. In 2017, 16% of the county’s children were considered below the federal poverty level.  The Maryland State Department of Education reported that in 2017, 3.47% of Worcester County Public School students were homeless. The state average is 1.5%.

“I mention that because obviously we have a problem here and I mention it also because for those people in Annapolis who believe that Worcester County is one of the wealthiest, these statistics bear a different reality,” Bertino said.

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom referenced some existing programs being offered by other organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Lower Shore Workforce Alliance.

“I wonder if you are coordinating your efforts,” he said.

Sexauer assured him that the management board was interested in working with Big Brothers Big Sisters and would invite the group to submit a mentoring proposal. She said the management board had worked with the workforce alliance in the past and would continue to do so.

“We felt it was important to have a Worcester County specific program to reduce the barriers of transportation and being able to get to Wicomico County,” Sexauer said. “It was meant to be an expansion of an existing resource that’s specific to our community. We have partnered with them in the past and plan to moving forward.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.