Reconnect For Life (FY18 and Beyond) Annual

Story Behind the Curve

Youth unemployment shows a positive trend that closely mirrors Maryland’s rates, but with an advantage of 2 to 3 on average. The current forecast could signify youth unemployment rates of 7% by 2020. While overall youth unemployment data shows improvement, KCLMB approached the data through the lens of 'disconnected youth' (16 to 24 year olds not working and not in school) - also known as 'Opportunity Youth' for their enormous earnings potential.  In FY17 KCLMB released a report on the characteristics of youth disconnection in Kent County. Estimates show that 10% of 16 to 24 year olds are disconnected, with a disproportionate number of them being of color (African American, Latino, and two races or more). Youth identified racism and poverty as structural barriers, as well as a lack of transportation and childcare as necessary supports. They report being let down too many times over the course of their studies and within their families to readily trust providers offering to help.  Building rapport is an essential element to any strategy to work with this population. 

 
There is a disconnect between existing services and opportunity youth.  For example, Chestertown's American Job Center had no waiting list for their vocational and soft skill training offerings in FY17 or FY18.  Too often, opportunity youth were unable to successfully enroll in these programs and the American Job Center was unable to identify and offer flexiblity to meet their specific needs. KCLMB prioritized a strategy that would work to close the gap between formal programs and opportunity youth. 

 

Partners

Reconnect for Life embraces partnerships to increase the impact on opportunity youths lives. Each year the program holds quarterly partner meetings with Two Generation partners, and a broader partner event.  The partner events aim to raise awareness among service providers, community members, and employers about the strengths and challenges that local opportunity youth have, and to build cross sector relationships.

Chesapeake College 

Kent Family Center

MRDC Housing Outreach Office

Bayside H.O.Y.A.S. youth organization

Head Start 

American Job Center

Local Media 

Local Employers 

Action Plan
  1. Measure Crisis to Thrive intake with all opportunity youth, not just parenting opportunity youth.
  2. Train staff in Empath's Mobility Mentor model to better use brain science and a trauma informed approach to coaching youth.
  3. Continue to strengthen partnerships with the American Job Center, the Department of Social Services, and local employers.
  4. Partner event to focus on the realities faced by youth in poverty in Kent County.
Program Summary

Reconnect for Life addresses the Maryland Child Wellbeing Result of Families are Safe and Economically Stable by working intensively with opportunity youth (young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not working and are not enrolled in school) and their families to meet basic needs, reengage with education or work opportunities, and coordinate a two-generation approach among agencies and partners.

Reconnect for Life is a strategy being implemented in Kent County to help reduce the rate of unemployed youth. The program engages with all relevant partners to contribute to the effort of connecting young people to education and employment opportunities. Partners meet quarterly to build a two-generation approach for opportunity youth in Kent County.

              In FY20 About Child Trauma employs one full time program manager to identify and actively engage opportunity youth. The Kent Family Center employs .32 of their Service Coordinator to provide case management services for opportunity youth. The program manager, case manager, and supervisory staff at Kent Family Center and About Child Trauma and supporting staff practice the following evidence-based program components:

  • Assessing actuarial risk and needs: Using the crisis to thrive tool, the program staff and partners can assess over time the whole person and the whole family as necessary for a two-generation approach.
  • Enhancing intrinsic motivation: The Reconnect for Life program manager builds rapport with opportunity youth through consistency, constant checking in, and establishing relationships that are unaffected by a youth’s sudden “dropping out’ of activities. The program provides encouragement and opportunity to start again.
  • Targeted intervention: This program only serves Opportunity youth in Kent County.
  • Engaging ongoing support in natural communities: The program manager meets youth on the streets and in their homes to build relationships and best support them in connecting with local resources and services. The program staff works with partners to custom tailor activities to meet the needs and interests of the enrolled youth. For example, stage-based course work at convenient locations, or job mentoring opportunities.
Target Population

Reconnect for Life serves opportunity youth - 16 to 24 year olds who are not working and not in school.

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