Prevention continues to be the main focus among the various divisions of the Delaware Department of Services for Children Youth and their Families.
DSCYF’s fiscal year 2015 budget presentation concentrated on providing services to keep youth out of trouble.
Susan Cycyk, director of the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services said her department is requesting $2.2 million for after school and summer prevention programs which will serve more than 2,400 youth.
“We’re rolling out all the prevention programs so we have a robust offering of prevention programs from Claymont all the way down to Seaford and Laurel,” said Cycyk.
The division also asked for $3.3 million to continue to fund the behavioral health consultants for middle schools.
Governor Jack Markell requested the consultants in his FY 2014 budget after the state experienced a spike in the number of youth suicides, particularly among the middle school age group.
The state has recruited 23 consultants, which began working in the schools in January. The consultants are responsible for assessing students and connecting them to higher levels of care such as therapy or even hospitalization.
“We’ve had at least 100 referrals in Sussex, at least 50 in Kent and at least 75 in New Castle and its only February, said Cycyk. “We’re clearly meeting a need that schools have identified and they’re becoming part of the school team very quickly.”
Monica Morrow began consulting for Milford Central Academy at the beginning of the year. In her roughly six weeks on the job, Morrow said she’s seen students dealing with a wide range of serious issues.
“We’re dealing with everything from adjustment disorders, their parents are going through divorce, all the way through the spectrum. Kids are dealing with addiction and suicidal thoughts and everything in between,” Morrow said.
Morrow told the JFC that three of her students had to be admitted to impatient psychiatric facilities and more than a dozen need counseling for a variety of issues such as substance abuse and complicated grief.
Breaking the recidivism cycle
DSCYF is also requesting funds to help prevent juveniles from become repeat offenders.
In January Gov. Markell highlighted the state’s high rate of recidivism among juveniles who have been through the criminal justice system. Markell proposed $250,000 in funding for community-based advocates to help those children re-enter school, access mental health care and find jobs.
Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said the preventative requests are an “investment that will pay off again and again.”