This scorecard tracks the county-wide results and indicators for Anne Arundel County.
The Keep a Clear Mind drug education program in the Anne Arundel County schools may have contributed to some of the decline in alcohol and substance abuse reported by the data. The Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol, working in conjunction with the Substance Abuse and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (funded by the LMB through a SAMHSA grant) have also influenced the decline in drug use, as well as the funding supplied to the West and North County substance abuse coalitions by the health department. Strengthening Families will be offered in five locations this year mirroring the needs identified in the 2015 needs assessment.
According to the Maryland Youth Behavioral Risk Survey (2013), over one quarter of Anne Arundel County youth reported alcohol use. Data by ZIP Code indicates underage drinking occurs in all of the county’s ZIP Codes with Crofton reporting the highest use and Gambrills reporting the lowest use. The majority of youth who use alcohol report that they get their alcohol from someone who gave it to them or that they gave someone money to buy it for them. Several surveys have shown that there is still a community ‘norm’ around substance abuse in the county and that some underage youth are given alcohol by their parents. According to a risk survey completed by the Coalition for Safe Communities in 2013, marijuana is the second most popular drug for Anne Arundel County youth. 14% of surveyed youth reported past 30-day use of marijuana, 2% higher than those reporting tobacco use.
The Partnership is focused on diversion strategies prior to or at the point of arrest to help decrease the rates for non-violent and violent crime. Promising practices such as Community Conferencing, funded by the Governor’s office for Crime Control Prevention, are decreasing the numbers of juveniles who enter the system. The Anne Arundel County Community conferencing program is one of the most successful in the nation having diverted almost 400 youth from the juvenile services system over the last four years, 95% of whom are African American. 90% of youth in the program do not recidivate. Conferencing is now available in the school system to help prevent suspension.
The partnership also supports after school programs that include research based prevention curricula. These programs focus on those vulnerable youths identified by the juvenile services or public school system. Additionally, case management in our Systems of Care initiative and referrals to the two Youth Services Bureaus in the county address some of the family issues that may lead to negative and risky behaviors.
According to census estimates, since July, 2010, the overall juvenile population in Anne Arundel County has decreased by 4.2%. However, juvenile services complaints (all sources) have increased from 2,724 to 2,861(Department of Juvenile Services Data book, 2014). Disparity in Juvenile Justice, though decreasing, is still showing a rate for African Americans of 2.57 (2014 DMC data) as opposed to Caucasians. Public school system data is showing the same disparities. African Americans students only represented 19% of the public school enrollment but accounted for 45% of the disciplinary referrals (MSDE Suspension, Expulsion, and Health Related Exclusion Data, 2013-14).
This priority result area is supported by the needs identified across all service sectors related to supporting children during times they are not in school, especially those providing psychological assessments, emotional support, mentoring and diversion for vulnerable populations. Parent training and education were also cited as important components of programming.
Until 2015, Anne Arundel County Public Schools used the Maryland Model for School Readiness assessment as an early measure of child development and social and emotional readiness for kindergarten. Using that measure, from 2007-2014 Anne Arundel County’s readiness figures increased from 69% to 86%, although students scoring lowest were the low-income and English Language Learners at 78% and 72% respectively. (Maryland State Department of Education, 2014). In 2015, a new kindergarten readiness tool was introduced; Ready4Kindergarten or R4K. The tool includes an Early Learning Assessment that measures the progress of learning in young children (36 months to school age) and the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). The readiness scores for 2015 cannot be compared to 2014 because the two tests are entirely different. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are showing an increase in behavior problems at every income level and every geographic area (AACPS, 2015.) Children’s mental health and behavioral issues, especially for infants and toddlers, are a continuing need in the county. The Behavioral and Emotional Supports and Training program (BEST,) is a promising practice. It is the only behavior management program for the 0-5 population in the county. It is considered by many to be a national model for working with young children with emotional and behavioral problems and autism. BEST is coordinated by Anne Arundel Community College’s TEACH Institute & Parenting Center. Behavior Specialists provide behavioral and emotional support and training to parents and child care providers for children exhibiting challenging behaviors.
Behavioral and Emotional Support and Training (BEST)
The pre-school period is critical for building a foundation that will prevent or address the development of disruptive behavior that will lead to delinquency. The potential for child delinquency may be present in children as young as two years (Keenan, 2001). According to the new readiness for kindergarten test (R4K), only 43% of Anne Arundel County’s children entered kindergarten classrooms demonstrating the skills and behaviors needed to fully participate in kindergarten. When achievement data is disaggregated for FARMS children the achievement gap is very clear. Low income students in the 8th grade are 17.1 points behind in reading, 34 points behind in math and 26 points behind in science. The 2015 community needs assessment noted the lack of mental health services for the early childhood population and the disparity for FARMS and minority children in terms of readiness.
AACPS initiated an Elimination of the Achievement Gap (ETAG) initiative in 2011 which has helped to create positive trends in achievement and attendance data. Local schools are also active users of the evidence based Positive Behavioral Supports Initiative. Centro D’Ayuda (Center of Help) works with the Partnership to offer Spanish speaking case management and, new for this year, the Strengthening Families initiative. Afterschool programs were highlighted as needed supports in the 2015 community needs assessment. The Partnership will focus on those with evidence based curricula such as Second Step and Reconnecting Youth. The 2015 population data also points to the need for more targeted cultural interventions and after-school programming targeting literacy in Spanish speaking elementary students and their parents.
Eight of ten children from low income households receive FARMS (Free and Reduced Meals in Schools), which is a measure of household poverty. The Anne Arundel County Public School System has a reasonably low rate of FARMS students overall (Table 16). However, when the data is disaggregated it shows that 12 elementary schools have a FARMS population of 70% or more, 7 middle schools have 50% or more FARMS children and of the 12 county high schools, 4 have a FARMS population of 40% or more. When achievement data is disaggregated for FARMS children the achievement gap is very clear. Low income students in the 8th grade are 17.1 points behind in reading, 34 points behind in math and 26 points behind in science.
A Local Access Mechanism (LAM) plan (known locally as Systems of Care) offers intervention and support by providing access to services through the InfoAnneArundel.org website, the information and referral ‘warm’ line, family navigation and the Community Resource Initiative/Care Team (CRICT). The LAM targets children and families that have intensive behavioral, educational, developmental or mental health needs that cannot be met without extra assistance through a single point of access. By providing this assistance, children can be cared for in their families and will not need out-of-home placements to meet their needs. Families with less intensive needs can access information through a web based component and/or the information and referral line. All County Child serving agencies have representation on the CRICT Team (Care Team). The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County supplies flex dollars. The University of Maryland supplies a systems navigator. United Way of Central Maryland supplies a family navigator. Systems of Care (LAM) will receive continuing focus this year as the United Way Homeless prevention and diversion initiatives add intensive case management to existing services. Additionally, DSS contracts with the Partnership for Kinship Care which offers case management and support to relative caregivers.
Local Access Mechanism: Single Point of Access (IRL), Family Navigation
The rate of out of home care for the county has been decreasing. However, the numbers of families living below the poverty level has increased. Children need safe and stable homes in order to thrive. Family instability may pose substantial risks to children and may contribute to the need for children to be placed in alternative care. Out-of-home placements are used when less restrictive interventions have failed. According to the 2015 community needs assessment, families are struggling with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter and the percentage of families below the poverty level is increasing. Additionally, the number of families living in cars or motel rooms has risen steeply. There is almost no affordable housing in the county. According to 2014 data, the waiting list for county public housing is closed, vouchers are frozen and the city public housing list is over 2,000. An increasing number of homeless families, or those at risk for homelessness, are cycling through family navigation and the Local Care Team (CRICT.) According to AACPS, almost a thousand youth in Anne Arundel County are without a permanent home.