Dorchester County Results for Child Well-Being

This scorecard tracks the county-level results and indicators for Dorchester County.

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Story Behind the Curve

During the May 6, 2011, the LMB board considered the causes at work for teen birth rates, low birth weights, and substance use among adolescents.Factors were discussed such as activity access due to limited resources as a result of major budget cuts across all public and private programs, and lack of transportation and the rural nature of the county.Teen pregnancy is closely correlated with unsupervised youth during the after school hours, accessibility of alcohol and other drugs for teens; and issues with poor self-esteem among young people.

Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

Children born to teen mothers face increase risks of low birth weight, prematurity, infant mortality, developmental disabilities and poverty.Adolescent mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, experience unemployment or earn lower wages.

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Story Behind the Curve

During our 2014 strategic planning process the LMB board considered the causes at work that lead to substance use among adolescents.Factors were discussed such as activity access due to limited resources as a result of major budget cuts across all public and private programs, and lack of transportation and the rural nature of the county.Substance use can be a direct result of unsupervised youth during the after school hours, accessibility of alcohol and other drugs for teens; and issues with poor self-esteem among young people.These stories behind the data continue to translate into the Hawkins’ evidence-based risk factors of isolation and lack of social bonding; community norms favorable to drug use; and greater influence or reliance on peers than parents and other caring adults.

Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

The first priority Result chosen by the Local Management Board (LMB) for intervention is Healthy Children.Substance Use is an issue that is documented as a major concern by key stakeholders in the community and in data collected through the CTC survey and the YRBS survey. The Use of alcohol and other drugs poses many health risks for youth.Early use of alcohol is associated with later drug use and the prevalence of high risk behaviors.

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Story Behind the Curve

Several forces at work are under consideration for the indicators identified. Suggestions at the planning sessions included:

  • Lack of appropriate community based diversion and affordable and accessible ancillary services;
  • Lack of proper parental supervision;
  • Challenges with single parent homes;
  • Poor environment – and living conditions due to poverty;
  • Limited parental education;
  • High unemployment rate among adults and lack of employment opportunities for juveniles;
  • Lack of parenting programming;
  • Children being raised by extended family or older family members;
  • Substance use (includes alcohol)
  • Abuse of “family”;
  • Lack of parental involvement in the educational process of their children;
  • Higher than average drop-out rates among high school students;
  • Lack of public transportation;
  • Incarcerated parents; and
  • Lack of transitioning for inmates back into the community.

Teens who participated in the needs assessment focus groups of 2010, and those teens in 2011 and data gathered from the 2012 CTC survey and 2013 expressed concern about juvenile crime and especially violent crime.The teens spoke about increases in fighting in the public schools and in the community among their peers.

The three risk factors most likely to impact juvenile crime are 1) peer norms favorable to criminal activities; 2) poor decision making and conflict resolution skills; 3) and poor family management practices.Three strategies are proposed to counter these risk factors by building the opposing protective factors of 1) association with positive peers; 2) strong youth development opportunities; and 3) family and parenting support.


Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

A community that supports safety and family life is important in a small rural community like Dorchester County that has very limited resources.It is important to bring all sectors of the community together to create a community where children and families fell safe in their home and are able to live in safe and supportive neighborhoods.

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Data Discussion
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The children of Dorchester County perform below the state average on the MMSR.Of particular concern is their poor performance in language and literacy, a strong indicator of school success.Although there has been significant improvement in school readiness for Dorchester’s children in the last ten years with a total of 77% of children rated fully ready, the county still lags behind the rest of Maryland in children entering school ready to learn.

Dorchester’s performance on MMSR can perhaps be correlated to the underperformance of third and fifth grade Dorchester County Public School students on the Maryland State Assessments.Third grade students are significantly behind their same grade peers across Maryland.In fifth grade, the gap still exists but is narrower, suggesting perhaps that children starting school not fully ready take a longer time to “catch up” and narrow the achievement gap. Conversely, if more students in Dorchester entered school fully ready to learn then perhaps their achievement as measured on statewide achievement tests would be comparable to the scores across the State.
Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

Children that fall in the achievement gap area of the 3rd grade assessment are always playing catch-up.

Children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to meet proficiency standards on the MSA (reading performance).

Data Discussion
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Based on the results from the indicator data gathering during early 2014, there are many causes for the challenging indicators for the School Success Result.In a 2013 community forum, citizens raised concerns about students being groomed to take achievement tests rather than mastering basic skills.Students in focus groups (2013) reported that once their peers get behind in school or are failing, they lose the motivation to come to school, thus a “do not care” attitude is easily adopted.Reasons given by students for absences include boredom, stress relief, and lack of excitement in school.Students reported that some of their peers do not have supportive parents or other caring adults who motivate them to learn and to stay in school.Some students expressed dissatisfaction with disciplinary policies and a perceived practice of favoritism. In the key informant surveys, respondents believed the school was doing an adequate job of educating, but emphasized the need of support from the public for the school system and for student learning. Reasons given by the youth focus groups for the high dropout rate highlight the lack of opportunities available in the county, resulting in feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem.

Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

Within the school domain, 2011 data showed challenging trends for kindergarten readiness among Hispanic, Special Ed, and FARMs preschoolers (66%, 51%, and 69%, respectively) compared to Caucasian preschoolers (85%) and all county preschoolers (71%).

English and Algebra passing HSA scores for students in grades 9-12 are still performing below the State average in 2012 (English = 69.3; Algebra = 78.8% and Biology=74.2%).Dorchester’s FARMs students passed both performance tests at a lower percentage than non-FARM students in 2009.
Data Discussion
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Strategies to improve these indicators
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Story Behind the Curve
Strategies to improve these indicators
Why Is This Important?

A Community that supports safety and family life is important in a small rural community like Dorchester County that has very limited resources. it is important to bring all sectors of the community together to create a community where children and families feel safe in their home and are able to live in safe and supportive neighborhoods.

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