This scorecard tracks the county-level results and indicators for Charles County.
Having a safe neighborhood is important for positive child and youth development. Neighborhoods that are unsafe are associated with high rates of infant mortality and low birthweight, juvenile delinquency, high school dropout, child abuse and neglect, and poor motor and social development among pre-school children. Conversely, children who live in highly supportive neighborhoods have positive outcomes such as stronger connections with family, peers and community, and greater participation in out-of-school time programs, volunteering, and religious services. This can be taken even further by understanding that by ensuring highly supportive neighborhoods, strengthening families, and supporting our youth creates safe communities. Therefore we target at risk youth through the provision of juvenile intervention and prevention services designed decrease the risk for anti-social and/or illegal activities and families most at risk for child maltreatment and who may be dealing with mental health and behavioral issues.
Feeling safe can lead to improved self-confidence and an overall positive mental well-being. If a child or adolescent lives in fear, or has so sense of general safety, either in the family or the community settings, he/she may begin to show aggression, get involved in unwanted or inappropriate behaviors, become withdrawn or engage in unhealthy relationships. These relationships include, but are not limited to, joining gangs or an organized group with negative influences, seeking protection from that which causes their anxiety, harm or distress or even a relationship that can become physically aggressive in nature.
The relationship between education employability, job security, and earnings has been well established but, all of the youth population is not on the track for high school completion and on to college. The exact number of disconnected youth in this area is not known but it is estimated that 15% of the total youth (16 - 24 years of age) fit this definition since they are neither in school or employed. Programming is necessary to assist those who are either at risk for or who are disconnected with becoming employable and employed. Facilitating a young person's attachment to school and the labor market facilitates their transition into adulthood and positively contributing to their communities.
When children and youth begin each day with a general sense of good health (mental and physical) they are more productive and more likely to be successful in school and as a member of society. This state of wellbeing is the result of stability and safety in the home and the community. This may not be the case for children who face instability due to economics, abuse, addiction and other issues faced by the family and that are ultimately reflected in the community. Unfortunately, when faced with a personal crisis, many of our youth find alternative means of coping with emotional and physical issues. These alternatives may include self-medicating, involvement in negative habits as a result of peer pressure and wanting to fit in when there is little or no guidance and support in the home. This may lead to drug and alcohol abuse and other negative behaviors.
Charles County ranks 16th out of the 24 jurisdictions in the State of Maryland in percent of children who participate in free and reduced meals (FARM). The numbers show an annual increase in FARM participation and in children who live in poverty. This is significant because research shows that a hungry child is often more likely to get in trouble in school, struggle with grades and attention, and develop social isolation, all of which lead to even greater problems for the child and the community. The FARM participants have food security issues that continue after the school year ends and must be addressed.