State of Emergency for America’s Children
On October 19th a "National Emergency in Children’s Mental Health" was declared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. They called for increased funding for evidence-based mental health screening, diagnosis, and treatment; regulatory changes to improve access to telemedicine; implementation of school-based mental health care; and prevention programs in schools, primary care, and community settings.
That same day the White House issued a new resource to provide evidence-based recommendations for educators, school staff, and mental health providers to create a system of supports for students with behavioral health needs and their families.
In contrast, in Rochester, the news broke that RCSD was placing uniformed police offers at high schools during bus arrival and dismissal and considering a revision to the code of conduct that was adopted in 2016.
RCSD needs to focus on both prevention and rapid response when a critical incident happens. Rapid response does not require armed police officers in the building, and The Children’s Agenda stands behind Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small’s clear statement that she does not support that. All students need sufficient access to social workers and counselors in every school and universal screening for emotional well-being and trauma with referral, follow-up and integrated care. Our children are acting on the stress and trauma of all they have experienced over the past 18 months. They need mental health and emotional support as they return to school after life-changing disruptions. They do not need a return to the school-to-prison pipeline.
RCSD has received $284 million in federal relief and rescue funds. That money is specifically intended to provide for the educational and economic recovery of our community. For children to learn, they must have support to cope with the trauma caused by COVID-19 and the social, racial, and economic turmoil that accompanied it.
The Children’s Agenda and 14 parent, student, educator, and advocacy organizations have been calling on RCSD to invest $40 million in research-based restorative practices and social-emotional supports for children over the past 4 months. They have been joined by dozens of faith communities throughout Monroe County – all so far to little or no avail. Anything less than spreading mental health supports such as help zones, additional social workers and counselors is a dereliction of our duty to provide for the well-being of our community’s children.
Join TCA, Monroe County faith communities, and community members in calling for RCSD to invest in the mental and social-emotional health of Rochester students.
En Español: https://thechildrensagenda.org/2021/10/11/invierta-en-la-salud-mental-y-la-salud-socioemocional-de-los-estudiantes-rochester/
Responding to the Triple Threat
The crisis of children’s mental health is acutely felt here in Rochester where we are one of 8 U.S. cities that face the triple threat of COVID-19 vulnerability + lack of mental healthcare + high mental health needs. The threat is especially dire for young people who have faced 18 months of educational disruption, erosion of social networks, and exposure to violence. Supporting our children and young people through this crisis requires transformational investments in our children. We must reorient our priorities to provide children with what they need most.
Monroe County has $144 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. They are seeking community input on how to use those funds across six priority areas: public safety, public health and wellness, economic recovery, workforce development, infrastructure improvements, and sustainability.
Attend one of four community forums and tell County government:
Raising Rochester - Episodes 4 & 5 Available Now
When families have economic stability, children are better able to thrive. The federal Child Tax Credit, which has been temporarily extended, is having major impacts on families right now. More than 1 out of 3 New York families report using the credit to purchase food, pay essential bills, purchase clothing, and make rent or mortgage payments. Food insecurity dropped from 21% of eligible families having severe food insecurity to only 8%.
Yversha Roman, Director of the CASH Program at Empire Justice Center, joined the show to discuss the CASH program, the recent temporary expansion of the child tax credit, and local efforts to ensure that all potential recipients of the credit (up to $300/month) receive it.
Yversha Roman on the Child Tax Credit and CASH program
In our second episode this month, Jessica Lewis, Communications Specialist for ROC the Future, reflected on her experiences as an Urban-Suburban program participant.
Jessica Lewis on the Urban-Suburban Program
Subscribe to Raising Rochester on your favorite podcast platform!
Local Government Matters
Local government impacts the lives of children and families every day. We see that most profoundly in county government where vital programs such as Early Intervention for children with developmental delays and Preschool Special Education are administered, nutrition assistance is provided, and emergency and community-based mental health support is available.
City and town governments also play a role in supporting children’s well-being through recreation programs that provide safe and nurturing after-school and summer programs, parks and playgrounds that foster healthy physical activity, libraries that open young minds to new worlds, and youth employment opportunities that develop skills for future careers.
Yet, in Monroe County fewer than half of registered voters cast a ballot in local elections. We can change that this year. Learn about the candidates at https://www.vote411.org/new-york#candidate-and-ballot-measure-information
Be a voter. Vote for kids.
NOTE: Your polling place for November 2nd may have changed. Check where to go here: https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter/
Early Voting Locations
Kids Can't Wait
Parents are the first and best advocate for their children, and we seek to maximize the existing strengths, assets and collective power of families and parents. By sharing their stories and advocating with policymakers, parents can ensure services and funding meet the real and pressing needs of children and families.
For years, The Children’s Agenda has partnered with parents and community members. Building on past success, we have launched a new group specifically for Rochester parents who want to improve Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education for Rochester’s children. Together we can ensure the developmental, emotional, and social needs of our youngest children are supported.
Thank you to all the parents who participated in our first Parent Advocacy Group meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Zoom on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 6 pm. To join, reach out Ja'Nai Barber at email@example.com or call 585-256-2620 extension 2611.
United in Care and Concern
Monroe County faith communities, community members, and advocates gathered together this month on Children’s Interfaith Weekend to address the surge in social and mental health concerns among children in our region. Events included a community roundtable co-hosted by The Children’s Agenda, Partners In Community Development BIPOC PEEEEEEK and New Born Fellowship Church. The event featured keynote speaker Dr. Myra Mathis, a psychiatrist and graduate of RCSD who spoke about the need for equal access and equity across the mental health system and the unique role faith leaders can play in supporting children and families.
There was also an interfaith service of prayer and intention co-hosted by The Children’s Agenda and the Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society (Roc/ACTS). The gathering included leaders of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities who renewed their commitment to help students recover from the trauma caused by COVID-19 and the social, racial, and economic turmoil that accompanied it.
Additionally, congregations around the county held their own observances of Children’s Interfaith Weekend, inviting their members to sign The Children’s Agenda’s letter calling on RCSD leaders to invest federal and state funds in school climate, students’ mental health, and healing from trauma.
If your congregation wants to get involved, there’s still time. Contact Brigit Hurley at 585-256-2620 extension 2602 or BHurley@thechildrensagenda.org.
Stephanie Townsend has joined The Children’s Agenda as our new Communications and Coalitions Manager. Stephanie is no stranger to us as she previously worked for our partner ROC the Future. We are pleased to have her in this new role where she will be raising our profile in the press and with the public plus coordinating our work across the many coalitions The Children’s Agenda is part of.
As a community psychologist, Stephanie brings a keen awareness of how to build healthier, stronger communities by changing systems. Her extensive experience as a researcher and policy advocate helps her translate complex data and policies into accessible and useful forms.
Stephanie and her family live in Pittsford and her son is in 11th grade at Bishop Kearney High School. Together they enjoy camping and hiking with their two dogs, traveling to warm beaches where her son scuba dives, and browsing in bookstores.
Stephanie Townsend, TCA Communications & Coalitions Manager
TCA in the News
October 2021 Donors
Ms. Jen Cathy - Mr. Peter Collinge and Ms. Carol Thiel - Mrs. Amanda Dreher - Mr. James Evinger and Mrs. Ann Evinger - Mr. Joshua Herz - Kenlou Foundation - Dr. Norman Loomis and Mrs. Laura Loomis - M&T Charitable Foundation - Ms. Sarah Mittiga - Peace of Christ Parrish - Mr. Richard Schwartz and Mrs. Vicki Schwartz - Mrs. Sally States - Kathy L. Strong Fund - Mr. Paul Tremblay and Dr. Jennifer West
Sustaining the work we do together is only a click away. Making a monthly donation to The Children's Agenda supports our efforts to help children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.