Story Behind the Curve
The Talbot County Community Plan (2016) identified Child Poverty as one of the greatest needs and “programming to move people in poverty towards self-sufficiency” was identified as a key strategy. Since FY 16, some improvement has been made – child poverty now stands at 13.1% but remains above the Maryland average of 12.3% and without continued intervention, poverty indicators in Talbot County will remain higher than the State’s.
Using the Results Based Accountability (RBA) planning process, the TFN Board identified that 100% of the Governor’s Goals and Indicators with the worst trend lines are linked by poverty and racial inequities. With this awareness, RBA planning established this program as a strategy to take on poverty across the community.
The Community Poverty Education and Getting Ahead (formerly named Bridges Out of Poverty/Getting Ahead) intervention was first introduced by Talbot Family Network in FY17 via a step-by-step phase in process. This program builds capacity on both the community and the individual levels. During the FY21 Community Planning Update process, the TFN Board reviewed the Child Poverty data, as well as FY17-21 performance measures, and chose to continue Community Poverty Education and Getting Ahead Workshops as a funding priority.
STRATEGIES AND STRENGTHS
- Use of Zoom made it possible to continue community sessions during the pandemic. Technology and connectivity were barriers for some participants and facilitators.
- Facilitators work to establish positive bonds with and between the program participants helping to create stronger natural support networks.
- Facilitators were able to continue their training virtually including facilitator recertification with Getting Ahead, Getting Ahead ACES, and Mental Health First Aid.
- FY20 - Getting Ahead groups were cancelled after recently starting in the 2nd half of the year due to COVID-19. Groups to begin virtually in FY21 if appropriate.
- For the community groups, many participants were either self-referred or referred by previous participants. The participants are screened to determine their level of ability to participate in and benefit from the Getting Ahead group.
- The other groups were held by specific organizations with their participants as closed groups. As such, they are able to build relationships within the group and leverage the other sources of support that they can offer.
- Both strategies help to set participants up for success in the program.
- The % that work or enroll in education is influenced by a number of factors. Two of the groups consisted of participants that had significant barriers to being able to work, including being in treatment for substance abuse, managing disabilities or experiencing homelessness. The program is successful in assisting these individuals work towards stability and improvements are made in those areas; however, the ability to obtain work or enroll in education was more of a long-term goal for many participants in cohorts this year. The positive is that still, over half of all participants achieved this. It was just a different group from FY2017.
Getting Ahead Partners
Talbot Interfaith Shelter - Offers space, referrals, meals, childcare and facilitator (paid) for an on-site Getting Ahead Program that is mandatory for adult residents at the shelter.
YMCA - Offers space for Getting Ahead, free of charge for the community program. Offers childcare services as needed, free of charge if in low demand or at a low cost if the need is greater.
Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center - Offers services to participants after graduation from Getting Ahead if participants are seeking assistance in working towards their identified goals.
Neighborhood Service Center – Provides referrals
Chesapeake Voyagers- Provides referrals
Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) - Multiple referral source
B.N.J Health Services - Multiple referral source
Tilghman Elementary School – Offers space for Getting Ahead in the Bay Hundred Area and provides referrals
- Continue the successful outreach strategies for the community groups.
- Review current partners and reestablish partnerships that paused during COVID (e.g. Tilghman Elementary School for group session in the Bay Hundred area) and create new partnerships where appropriate (e.g. American Job Center, St. Michaels Community Center).
- Provide continued feedback/follow up with contracted Getting Ahead facilitators plus ongoing recertification training.
Bridges Out of Poverty teaches people about the challenges of poverty and equips participants with the resources to tackle the problems of poverty across all community sectors.
There are two components to this program: educational workshops, and practical multi-week training about poverty and methods of moving out of poverty. This includes two community workshops, two Getting Ahead groups and support for additional groups with other community partners.
Resourced and under-resourced community members living and/or working in Talbot County