key issues that affect children and youth
At their 2014 meetings, the CAN Community Council heard presentations by local collaborative initiatives and service providers, including the Trauma-Informed Care Consortium of Central Texas, Children and Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership, Safe Place, Travis County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and Travis County Health and Human Services. Community Council members discussed the needs and challenges of children and youth in our area. CAN also conducted and inventory of prevention and intervention efforts addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in Travis County. Top barriers and challenges identified through the Community Council conversations and the inventory included:
- School Readiness Gaps in Early Childhood Care and Education. There are significant gaps in the school readiness of young children, especially low-income children, including a shortage of high-quality daycare and pre-kindergarten programs, with an emphasis on full-day pre-kindergarten.
- Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences. Youth experience traumas and adverse childhood experiences that affect their health, development and behavior. This can result in children and youth experiencing punitive disciplinary measures, rather than receiving the appropriate treatment for the underlying causes of their behavior. Social-Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Care can provide educators, service providers and other adults with the tools and knowledge to more appropriately address the needs of children and youth who have experienced trauma and other adverse experiences.
- Youth and Family Services Gaps. Uncoordinated and fragmented systems of care often do not meet needs of the whole family. Many low-income families lack access to safe, affordable housing, public transportation, quality childcare, recreational opportunities, and physical and behavioral health care.
- School to Prison Pipeline. Many of the youth in juvenile and criminal justice systems are there because of the failing of our early childhood system, educational system, inadequate attention to trauma and mental health needs. The biggest provider of mental health services to children and youth is the juvenile justice system.
- Post-secondary Readiness. Many low-income students who do graduate from high school graduate unprepared for college and other post-secondary training options.