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A Decade Undone: Youth Disconnection in the Age of Coronavirus

The Covid-19 pandemic will cause youth disconnection rates to spike dramatically. We estimate that the number of disconnected youth … could swell to almost one-quarter of all young people.

Kristen Lewis, Measure of America, June 2020

Skilled, credentialed, healthy, and engaged young people are essential to our community. However, a national report issued this week by Measure of America reports Louisville/Jefferson Co, KY-IN is 79th among the 100 largest cities in the US in the percentage of youth and young adults who are disconnected, out of school and work due to structural racism, poverty, homelessness, educational disruption, childhood trauma, and related challenges

In the 2019 Measure of America report, Louisville was 71of 100 and was the metro area with the largest racial or ethnic gap for disconnected youth with a black-white gap of 17.6 percentage points.

According to the analysis of Census data by Measure of America, this means approximately 17,100 (12.5%) of all 16- to 24-year-olds in Louisville Metro are considered neither in school nor working because of challenges they face. Additionally, more than 9,800 18 to 24-year olds in Louisville lack a high school diploma. These disruptions in education and employment overshadow the opportunities young people have to learn, to become financially independent, and to fully participate in our community.

The economic, health, and social crises in Louisville and across the US will increase the number of disconnected youth in our community. Overall, young people are more likely to have been working in COVID-affected service and retail sectors and account for nearly half of all workers paid minimum wages or less. They are less likely to have access to health insurance, paid sick leave, or savings to endure a recession. One in five young people in Louisville experienced poverty growing up and now report their incomes provide essential or the only support to the household.

Education and related supports that would be available in other economic crises are now severely disrupted. Students who struggled in high school are cut off not just from learning, encouragement, and social interaction but also disability services, meals, health care, psychological support, and a safe place to spend the day. The number of young people who will not return to school in the fall is unknown but expected to increase to unprecedented levels.

Read the full report from Measure of America

Courier Journal Highlights Community’s Disconnected Youth

Mandy McLaren @mandy_mclaren 

THREAD: I filed this story last Thursday, hours before the first night of protests in Louisville. It was published on Monday, but, understandably, I doubt you saw it. Here’s one big reason why I hope you will still find time to read & share. 

How the coronavirus pandemic multiplies struggles for Louisville’s disconnected youth Without increased support for the out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, experts fear the worst is yet to come.

Last night, while covering the #LouisvilleProtests, I found myself on East Broadway, under an interstate overpass. And while I was doing my best to capture the powerful demonstration that was unfolding, I turned and locked eyes with a young man.

He wasn’t there to protest. He was just walking by. Instantly, I was jolted by the realization: I knew him. 

We met last summer, when I was spending many hours at the YMCA SafePlace drop-in center for homeless youth. Unlike other youths there who knew each other by name & used SafePlace as a spot not just for food and internet, but also social connection, this young man kept to himself.

When I saw him there on Tuesday nights, he typically grabbed a few slices of pizza and sat at a table, always aware of his surroundings. One evening, he asked if it would be OK to sit by me. And little by little, he started talking. 

I wish we weren’t in a pandemic right now and I was in the newsroom so that I could dig out my notebook and truly tell this young man’s story with the detail it deserves. 

What I do remember clearly is that he had been homeless for quite some time — sleeping, often, in junkyard cars, he said. He talked about having to make sure he woke early, getting out of dodge before the sun rose and was caught trespassing. 

He was older than the other youths at SafePlace. He said he had spent a few years in one of the Carolinas — I can’t remember which — where he had a girlfriend, a job and a roof over his head. 

But things with the girlfriend didn’t work out. And he felt the tug of Louisville, the city he grew up in, pulling him back. So he returned. 

He stayed short on details about what followed once he got back, but it was clear that whatever happened, he was making the choice at the time we met to distance himself from his own family. He told me he was trying to get clean. 

I’m not sure the last time I saw him at SafePlace. And at this point, I haven’t been back over there in months, so he could still be stopping by. When I saw him last night, it was clear by his appearance that he was still homeless. 

Even though I was wearing a baseball cap and a mask, it was clear he recognized me, too. Over the protesters’ chants, I tried to explain who I was, to see if he understood our connection. He smiled and nodded. Maybe he knew. Maybe he was just being polite. 

I said something silly like “Are you OK? Are you safe?” and he nodded some more. Then, with no further conversation possible amid the chaos, we waved goodbye and he continued on his way. 

I watched as he, a young black man, walked on, his body directly between the shouting protesters and a line of armed police officers. I wish I knew what he made of it all. 

I’m recounting this to you now because if the pandemic and the protests have reminded me of anything, it’s this: Louisville’s disconnected youth are hurting. And whether they’re shouting their pain at a protest or holding it all in, they are counting on city leaders to help. 

So again, here’s that story you probably missed: How the coronavirus pandemic multiplies struggles for Louisville’s disconnected youth 

Here’s what @louisvillemayor is proposing as a starting point: Mayor Greg Fischer administration seeking $1.5M to support Louisville’s disconnected youth

And here’s the in-depth series I wrote for the @courierjournal last year that brought these important voices to the forefront: Louisville has large number of youth who are out of school or work.

Advocating for Disconnected Youth

We are experiencing unprecedented challenges in Louisville. For the one in ten of our young people who are approaching adulthood disconnected, the challenges are particularly daunting.

Mayor Fischer has proposed in his current budget $1.5 million for the Office of Resilience and Community Services and KentuckianaWorks to help prepare our community’s disconnected and vulnerable youth. The funding, redirected from prior allocations to the now closed Youth Detention Center (total prior budget of $8+ million), will make a significant positive difference.

We need your help to get this budget passed.

Join us in asking Louisville Metro Council to:

  • Fully fund the development of a one-stop employment and education center for reengaging vulnerable youth with a blend of resources from Louisville Metro ($1 million reallocated from the closed Youth Detention Center), partner organizations, and federal and state funds.
  • Allocate Louisville Metro External Agency Funds to programs supporting disconnected youth ($500,000 of funding from the closed Youth Detention Center).

Additional actions Louisville Metro can take today:

  • Task Evolve 502 with allocating 15% of scholarship funds to young people who are not in school.
  • Establish an Education Committee of the Louisville Metro Council.
  • Partner with private funders to invest in dropout prevention both in schools and in the community.
  • Make information on the employment opportunities for youth and young adults accessible. Identify employers hiring through SummerWorks, Academies of Louisville and the Internship Academy.

What you can do:


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Sample Letter

Dear Council Person:

Skilled, credentialed, healthy, and engaged young people are essential in our effort to restart Louisville’s economy post-COVID. However, a significant group of Louisville’s youth and young adult are not on track. Organization Name calls on city leaders to invest in Louisville’s “disconnected” youth.

In Louisville, approximately 8,900 (10.8%) of all 16- to 24-year-olds are considered disconnected, neither in school nor working due to learning challenges, poverty or homelessness, foster care or juvenile justice involvement, structural racism, mental health problems, or related issues.  Additionally, more than 9,800 18 to 24-year olds in Louisville lack a high school diploma. These disruptions in education and employment overshadow the opportunities young people have to learn, to become financially independent, and to fully participate in our community.

The economic crisis caused by COVID will increase the number of disconnected youth in our community. Overall, young people are more likely to have been working in COVID-affected service and retail sectors and account for nearly half of all workers paid minimum wages or less. They are less likely to have access to health insurance, paid sick leave, or savings to endure a recession. One in five young people in Louisville experienced poverty growing up and now report their incomes provide essential or the only support to the household.

The sudden and unprecedented drop in school and work opportunities for young people is also likely contributing to the recent increase in youth-involved crime in our community.  Closing the Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center was an essential step that now challenges us as a community to develop more effective strategies to help struggling young people get back on track.

While organization name recognizes the unprecedented constraints of both public and private funders, we call all our leaders to take the following specific actions to address Louisville’s growing and critical number of disconnected youth:

  • Fully fund the development of a one-stop employment and education center for reengaging vulnerable youth, with a blend of resources from Louisville Metro ($1 million reallocated from the closed Youth Detention Center), partner organizations, and federal and state funds.
  • Allocate Louisville Metro External Agency Funds to programs supporting disconnected youth ($500,000 of funding from the closed Youth Detention Center).
  • Task Evolve 502 with allocating 15% of scholarship funds to young people who are not in school.
  • Establish an Education Committee of the Louisville Metro Council.
  • Partner with private funders to invest in dropout prevention both in schools and in the community.
  • Make information on the employment opportunities for youth and young adults accessible. Identify employers hiring through SummerWorks, Academies of Louisville and the Internship Academy.

It is the right time to reverse the decades-long dis-investments in youth programs in Louisville and to focus on the growing number of disconnected youth in our community. The economic impact of re-investing far outweighs the cost. Each young person reconnected will generate approximately $105,500 in new tax revenue and will save taxpayers $65,230 in social supports.

 



The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth

Contributors

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and EducationHealth and Medicine DivisionBoard on Children, Youth, and FamiliesCommittee on the Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications; Richard J. Bonnie and Emily P. Backes, Editors

Description

Adolescence—beginning with the onset of puberty and ending in the mid-20s—is a critical period of development during which key areas of the brain mature and develop. These changes in brain structure, function, and connectivity mark adolescence as a period of opportunity to discover new vistas, to form relationships with peers and adults, and to explore one’s developing identity. It is also a period of resilience that can ameliorate childhood setbacks and set the stage for a thriving trajectory over the life course.

Because adolescents comprise nearly one-fourth of the entire U.S. population, the nation needs policies and practices that will better leverage these developmental opportunities to harness the promise of adolescence—rather than focusing myopically on containing its risks. This report examines the neurobiological and socio-behavioral science of adolescent development and outlines how this knowledge can be applied, both to promote adolescent well-being, resilience, and development, and to rectify structural barriers and inequalities in opportunity, enabling all adolescents to flourish.

Free Download

Our nation’s youth hold the key to our future well-being. Investing generously in them will create a “more perfect union.”

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Intro to Reengagment Center Model

Thursday, June 4, 2020
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Lynn Rippy, YouthBuild Louisville
Lance Meeks, Tuscon AZ Reengagment Center
Jennifer Welch, Kentucky Youth Career Center

Reengagment Centers have been a strategy communities throughout the US have used to connect marginalized youth and young adults with education, employment, and needed services. They may look differently in each community, but generally reengagement centers are hosted by one or more “anchor” organizations coordinating outreach, assessments, case management, referrals, and follow-up services. Additional services are provided by partner organizations offering services like mental health counseling, peer supports, job readiness, mentoring, and supplies. 

In this webinar, we’ll learn about the Reengagement Center model, why the model fits in Louisville, and who is already (or could be) working to implement the model here.

Training for Education Advocates

Topic: Advocating for the Special Education Rights of Court-Involved Youth
Trainers: Claire Nilsen Blumenson and Tayo Belle with the School Justice Project

Session 1: Training for legal professionals
Thursday, January 16, 2020
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Judicial Center, 700 W Jefferson Street, First Floor Training Rm
Information and registration: Maria Gurren

Session 2: Training for education and community-based professionals
Thursday, January 16, 2020
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Louisville Free Public Library, 301 York Street, Community Room
Information and Registration: Elizabeth Senn-Alvey

The School Justice Project (SJP) is a legal services and advocacy organization serving older students with special education needs who are involved in justice systems. Since 2013, SJP has been dedicated to ensuring that older (ages 17-22), court-involved youth with disabilities receive a quality education in the District of Columbia. By using special education legal advocacy in the juvenile and criminal contexts, SJP aims to increase access to education, decrease future court contact, and reshape the education and justice landscapes for older court-involved students with disabilities.

Since 2018, the School Justice Project has been working with legal and education advocates in Louisville and across the state to explore ways to strengthen the educational services for court-involved youth/young adults with special education needs. The results of their work are tangible but there is much to do together.  Please join us for this important opportunity to build your advocacy skills and to add your ideas on how to improve education outcomes for struggling and marginalized youth.

Youth Homelessness Resources

The Coalition for the Homeless has released a flyer describing the HUD funded services in Louisville to end youth homelessness. Help spread the word to young people and partners about these important new opportunities.

TAYLRD

TAYLRD provides services to youth (18-24) who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Case managers assist youth in developing a housing plan, which focuses on their unique housing needs. Case managers also assist youth in securing documents, benefits, &/or referrals to community resources that would further support youth in meeting their goals. Youth can also meet with TAYLRD’s onsite physical and mental health staff and find support through our life skills groups, laundry service, meals, hygiene products, Wi-Fi, and computers.

Drop-in hours MonFri 2pm-5pm or by appointment. 1020 E. Broadway. | LOUISVILLE, KY 40204 | CENTERSTONE.ORG Main Phone Line: 502-690-4399 or call Michele Isham at 502-639-0547

Family Scholar House

The mission of Family Scholar House is to end the cycle of poverty and transform our community by empowering families and youth to succeed in education and achieve life-long self-sufficiency. Our YHDP project works with young adults aging out of the foster care system and provides comprehensive services and housing.

INFO@FAMILYSCHOLARHOUSE.ORG | 502-584-8090 FAMILYSCHOLARHOUSE.ORG

Home of the Innocents

Home of the Innocents’ Pathways HOME program provides services to young adults (ages 18-24) experiencing homelessness and their children. We provide direct housing assistance, case management, education and employment coaching, resources like our Dare to Care food bank, and Life Skills classes.

325 BAXTER AVE | LOUISVILLE, KY 40204 | 502-596-1320 HOMEOFTHEINNOCENTS.ORG

Kentucky Youth Career Center

  • Onsite GED program for ages 18 – 24
  • Links to employment opportunities
  • Occupational skills training
  • Workforce education
  • Internship Academy
  • College and employer tours
  • Career and education fairs
  • Workshops
  • Leadership development opportunities
  • Food pantry
  • Opportunity Shop Computer Lab
  • Access to Legal Aid

612 S. 4TH ST. | LOUISVILLE, KY 40202 | 502-574-4115 WEAREKYCC.ORG

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul Louisville will serve young adults (aged 18-24) and their children in 24 units of transitional housing. Referrals to this housing will be made by the Common Assessment team. For more information, you can call 502-584-2480 or visit our website at svdplou.org.

Our main office is located at 1015-C S. Preston Street, Louisville, KY 40203. 1015-C S. PRESTON ST. | LOUISVILLE, KY 40203 | 502-584-2480 SVDPLOU.ORG

YMCA Safe Place

YMCA Safe Place provides street-based and drop-in center support to young adults 18-24 experiencing homelessness or unstable housing. We offer support for youth by providing access to day-time shelter, hygiene items, showers, a meal, clothing, and laundry as well as support in goal setting, skill development, and accessing community resources through case management, life skills groups, and resource referrals.

Drop in Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm; Tuesday from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

CHANNAH@YMCALOUISVILLE.ORG | 502-635-4402 YMCALOUISVILLE.ORG

YouthBuild Louisville

YouthBuild Louisville and their partners provide services to low-income, homeless young adults (ages 18-24) including information on LGBTQ-friendly supportive services, education, employment, mental/physical health services, transportation, food, clothing, identification and social security card attainment, and enrollment in insurance. We also provide housing navigation and vouchers, housing case management and life skills development.

INFO@YBLKY.ORG | 502-290-6121 YBLKY.ORG

Number and Rate of Disconnected Youth Increases in Louisville

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Measure of America’s latest report, More Than a Million Reasons for Hope: Youth Disconnection in America Today, updates disconnected youth estimates for the country as a whole, for states, counties, and metro areas, and by gender and race and ethnicity. The report finds that the youth disconnection rate declined in the United States for the sixth year in a row, reaching a low of 11.7 percent in 2016.

However, the disconnection rate in Louisville/Jefferson County has increased from 10.9% (15,200 young people) in 2015 to 13.4% (18,800 young people) in 2016. Disconnection rates vary by gender and race:
  • 13.4% of all youth/young adults are out of school and work
  • 13.9% of male youth/young adults are out of school and work
  • 12.8% of female youth/young adults are out of school and work
  • 27.7% of Black youth/young adults are out of school and work
  • 10.5% of White youth/young adults are out of school and work

Disconnected—or opportunity—youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. This report is the first in Measure of America’s disconnected youth series to compare American and European metro areas, or to examine disconnection by different group characteristics such as motherhood, marriage status, disability, English proficiency, citizenship, educational attainment, institutionalization, and household composition.

Other key findings include:

  • A chasm of nearly 20 percentage points separates the disconnection rates of racial and ethnic groups.
  • An alarmingly high share of disconnected black boys and young men—nearly a fifth—is institutionalized, compared to just 0.3 percent of the overall population in that age group.
  • Disconnected young people are about two-and-a-half times as likely to be living family other than parents, about twice as likely to be living with a roommate, and eight times as likely to be living alone.

To learn more about these and other findings, see the full report. The most recent data on disconnected youth can also be found in our interactive tool.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week

Louisville Metro and dozens of community organizations and classrooms will be observing National Youth Violence Prevention WeekMarch 19th to March 23rd.

“The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and to educate students, teachers, school administrators, counselors, school resource officers, school staff, parents, and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth Violence. This week long national education initiative will involve activities that demonstrate the positive role young people can have in making their school and community safer.”

Everyone is invited to participate in this week to take a city-wide stand against youth violence and to elevate the many solutions to this challenge. Three easy steps to get involved:

  1. Review the NYVPW-ActionKit   and select from any of the suggested activities, develop your own activity during the week, or if you already have something going on that week, lift it up and connect it with #NYVPW, #LouYVPW.
  2. Use (and help get trending) the hashtag’s #LouYVPW and #NYVPW during that week for social media posts.
  3. Metro United Way has graciously agreed to host an on-line portal where everyone can also list their activities for #NYVPW. Use and share this link www.metrounitedway.org/report so that anyone who is participating can have their activity captured.

This is an exciting opportunity to lift up Louisville and to take a stand against violence.  For more information or support to participate during the week of March 19, contact the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

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