It’s been nibbled on around the edges, but during Tuesday’s last discussion on a report about disengaged and disconnected youth, nonprofit service providers admitted that collaboration to deliver services to this invisible population is tough.
President and CEO of Our Piece of the Pie Hector Rivera said every youth that comes into their organization may have already been failed by between three to six services or systems that didn’t give them the opportunity that they needed.
But with so many well-meaning adults and service providers that exist in the state how are these children still falling through the cracks?
“We broadly build systems that serve masses and don’t serve individual children,” Rivera said. He said service providers and educators like to talk about collaboration, but after that conversation “everyone goes into their own corners.”
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Rivera said he’s been thinking a lot about the disconnect between educators and human service providers.
“We each think that we’re in a better position to serve disconnected youth,” Rivera said.
He said Connecticut should undergo an asset assessment to see what is currently in place that was intended to serve young people in this way and how are those investments being made.
Rep. Jeff Currey, D-East Hartford, who has attended all five panel discussions hosted by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and Dalio Education, said the state needs to do a mapping exercise to see where these services are needed and where they overlap.
He said the state is heavily saturated with nonprofits and a lot of them are doing similar work. He said the state needs to assess it and offer state jobs to those nonprofits that are duplicative.
He said the Dalio Education report is so important because for the first time it mapped and found these 119,000 youth.
At another panel discussion on Monday the importance of the data was highlighted.
“The state system is broken. One of the top solutions has to be that it can’t take 13 months to get this data,” CBIA President and CEO Chris DiPentima said. “They not only need to talk to each other, red lights should be going off at different agencies.”
So is it about more resources for this work?
Currey says “it’s not also about money.”
He said money isn’t the solution. He said it’s about mapping both state services and nonprofit services for this population. He said the state can’t force nonprofits to go through the exercise, but they can offer them jobs if they find themselves out-of-business as a result of their program being merged with another nonprofit.
“None of this is a surprise, none of this is new,” Currey said. “I don’t know why there’s not an urge to like want to take on the world right now, we can’t just not do anything.”