(Lincoln, Nebraska) – Nebraska Children and Families Foundation is awarding $200,000 over two years to the Central Plains Center for Services on behalf of the Through the Eyes of the Child collaborative. The funding will be used to build a Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) system to serve young people in need across Custer, Blaine, Garfield, Sherman, Valley, and Loup Counties.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to work with the Through the Eyes of the Child collaborative on this important project,” said Troy Gagner, Nebraska Children’s Connected Youth Initiative lead. “The partnerships they’ve built and the plan they’ve put together have the potential to make a major impact on the youth and young adults who need the most help.”
“On behalf of Central Plains Center for Services and the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative, we are excited to partner with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to implement a Connected Youth Initiative Model in rural Nebraska,” said Nancy Ferguson, Executive Director of Central Plains Center for Services. “We know the Counties of Custer, Blaine, Garfield, Sherman, Valley, and Loup are some of the most rural areas of Nebraska and in order for our youth to succeed, we must work collectively to put resources and supports in place to ensure youth are connected and have the best chance for success.”
Through the Eyes of the Child’s CYI
With CYI funding, the collaborative intends to fill service gaps in the area of permanence, mental health services, transportation, financial literacy/savings and more. Because Through the Eyes of the
Child is an all-volunteer organization, the Central Plains Center for Services (CPCS) applied for this grant on their behalf, and will act as the administrator of the CYI program. CPCS will use funding to hire a Central Access Navigator to serve as a single entry point for youth needing services, and to coordinate those services across six counties, and contract with several area partners to provide services.
According to the proposal submitted by CPCS, the greatest barrier served by the area’s unconnected youth population is involvement in the court system.
“We quickly realized that areas of personal and community engagement, education, employment, daily living, physical and mental health, permanence and economic stability affect a youth’s likelihood of becoming involved in the court system,” the proposal reads.
“This model will address the needs of our most vulnerable young people and provide them the opportunity to reach their fullest potential,” said Andra White, Project Director at Central Plains Center for Services. “There are significant challenges facing unconnected, rural youth in our area. There is no greater priority than ensuring these young people become independent, successful members of our communities.”
For its Connected Youth Initiative, CPCS plans to address these contributing factors by providing coordinated services to youth through a network of partners who can fill gaps. Partner programs include:
- Broken Bow Schools will provide credit recovery program for older students needing high school credit
- CPCS will handle Central Access Navigation and the administration of the Opportunity Passport savings and financial literacy program
- CPCS Education and Training Voucher Program will provide financial assistance for tuition, fees, books and one-on-one support
- CPCS Preparation for Independent Living Services (PALS) will provide one-on-one transition and independent living skills
- CPCS Success Through Education Program will serve youth by helping them overcome barriers to education, as well as provide some match funding
- Custer County Economic Development’s CAPABLE program will expand its Youth Leadership and Career Pathways programs to include SIF eligible youth, and provide some local match funding
- Healing Hearts and Families will provide diversion services for youth involved in the juvenile justices system and provide some local match funding
- State of Nebraska Probation District 8 will actively participate in the development and maintenance of a support system for unconnected youth
CPCS and Through the Eyes of the Child intend to formalize other partnerships to round out the services available to the underserved, unconnected youth in the six-county area.