Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin' By World (LASOS) (Harford County FY18 and beyond) Annual

Program Summary

Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World is a class based on the concept of Bridges Out of Poverty, which teaches a conceptual framework that emphasizes the causes of poverty and the differences and similarities between socio-economic classes.  The class is taught to low-income families sharing these concepts to better motivate and empower families.  This class has a very high success rate, with follow up sessions that have retained nearly 80% of the participants in the class.   Data from program evaluation of Getting Ahead showed statistically significant changes between beginning and ending of the classes on standardized measures for poverty-related knowledge, perceived stress, mental health and well-being, social support, self-efficacy, hope, and goal-directed behavior and planning.

Target Population

Services will be provided to disconnected youth, families that have been impacted by incarceration and childhood hunger.  Identified host site is LASOS located in Bel Air.  Services are available to youth and families county-wide with special emphasis on zip codes areas Bel Air, Aberdeen, and Edgewood and non-native English-speaking families.  Individuals will be interviewed and assessed for appropriateness.  

Local Highlight

The two sessions in FY19 had group of participants from a wide range of ages.  They developed a bond that continues outside of the classroom.  Several acquired jobs that will provide them with professional and personal growth opportunities.  They developed better financial practices as well and understand the need to continue to work on themselves as they grow.  Some participants also enrolled in Harford Community College to continue their educational growth.  

Data Discussion
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Story Behind the Curve

The program targets opportunity youth (ages 18-24 not working and not in school) and families impacted by incarceration and childhood hunger.  In 2017, there were 3,025 total disconnected youth in Harford County according to Measure of America Opporunity Index.  Research shows that the absence of economic opportunity is often a significant factor for youth becoming disconnected and they are two times more likely to live in poverty.  This program brings youth from similar backgrounds together and connects them to resources so they can live more prosperous lives and build new relationships.  Ther is a large gap in the workforce needs in Harford County.  There is a shortage of middle skill level workers who can fill technical, skilled labor jobs.  Susquehanna Workforce Network data states the average age of a construction worker in Harford and Cecil Counties is 62.  With an aging skilled labor workforce and minimal recruitment of younger workers for these positions, not only is there an unmet employment need but it is also resulting in stagnant outcomes for disconnected youth, who cannot make a living wage.  

Parental incarceration increases the risk of children living in poverty or experiencing household instability independent of other problems such as substance abuse, mental health, and limited education.  While there is a lack of data on the numbers in the County, some disconnected youth are also young parents.  The Center for the Study of Social Policy indicates that early parenthood can hinder youth from completing their education, prevent access to jobs with good pay and result in chronic economic challenges.  A child raised in poverty is more likely to become an adult living in poverty, less likely to graduate high school or remain consistently employed.  Forty-two percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the income ladder stay there.  

The percentage for children under 18 years of age living in poverty is 8.1% in 2016 and there were 23.2% of children under 18 living with families whose income was less than 200% of the poverty level.  The areas were the percentage of poverty is concerning are:  Perryman (67%), Aberdeen City (55%), Edgewood (50%), and Darlington (46%).    

Partners
  • LASOS provided critical resources needed to support integration into American society for non-native English-speaking residents.  They offer adult literacy services, including classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and citizenship; provide translation services; connect clients to Harford County's network of service providers; implement a family literacy program that includes a ready-by-school initiative; and mentoring for non-native English speaking children and youth of Harford County.  
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