Indy Youth Opportunity Fair – where was the spotlight?

Where were the TV camera crews and the reporters?  Why no headlines in the papers or segments on the nightly news?  Yesterday evening, over 500 young people, predominantly ages 14-17, came on their own to the 2014 Youth Opportunities Fair hosted by Congressman Andre Carson in cooperation with the Marion County Commission On Youth, Inc. (MCCOY) and Shortridge Magnet High School.  They came out to talk with over 40 community agencies, churches, and educational programs who are offering young people in our community positive opportunities for the summer months—and beyond.  Some youth were able to apply for summer jobs; others signed up for community service, or summer learning programs, or community arts activities.   Every young person walked away with knowledge of the many resources our community has to support their growth and development.

At a time when many seem to hold the belief that young people aren’t motivated or are just looking for the easy way out or are threats to public safety, here was a great example of a large number of youth who were willing to seek out and take advantage of positive, productive, and skill building opportunities that will help them develop into better people, better workers, and better citizens in the future.  
Thanks to all our community partners who came and offered opportunities to these over 500 young people who attended. You are making a great difference. Thanks to all those youth who took on the responsibility of seeking out ways to improve their lives—you are an inspiration.  It’s just kind of sad that we  did not have anybody there to spread the good news to the broader community that our youth are fine people!
John Brandon
President, MCCOY Inc.

Family Access Network

The Co-location of Services project has a new name: Family Access Network.

MCCOY, Goodwill, Fairbanks, Children’s Bureau, and Midtown Mental Health/Eskenazi, is creating a “one-stop” center for health and human services focused on the prevention of child abuse, neglect and juvenile delinquency.  The center will be located in the Near West neighborhood of Indianapolis and will focus on improving child and family well-being while also contributing to community development efforts occurring in Near West.  Indianapolis has a widespread need for integrated services to prevent child abuse, neglect and juvenile delinquency and we know Family Access Network and its innovative service model will have a positive impact on the kids and families served. 

Services offered under the one roof of Family Access Network will build upon and build up the following strengths of the kids and families in our community:
•    Social supports
•    Education
•    Health- physical and mental
•    Basic needs
•    Family function
•    Social connectedness
•    Safe environment

The research we’ve conducted on co-location/nonprofit/shared space centers throughout the US and Canada validates that the Family Access Network will greatly benefit the Near West community, as well as the City of Indianapolis. Working together to serve clients better, tracking and measuring success of the program model, as well as impact on the people served will benefit all involved- kids and families, organizations and the community. 

We are optimistic about the future of Family Access Network and its many successes and look forward to continuing the work of creating a “one stop shop” for families not only in Near West, but in Indianapolis as a whole. 

For more information on the Family Access Network please contact: Shanna Martin or (317) 921-1233.

What happens in between legislative sessions?

Written by: Mindi Goodpaster, MCCOY’s Director of Public Policy & Advocacy
Indiana has a part-time legislature that only meets three or four months out of the year.  During even-numbered years, they meet during the “short session,” which only lasts until approximately mid-March.  During odd-numbered years, they meet until approximately the end of April for the “long session,” which is where the state’s biennial budget is drafted and approved.  Although session is where laws are introduced, debated and voted on, there is much work that goes on throughout the rest of the year during the “interim” period.
On May 14, the Legislative Council, made up of House and Senate Leadership and other key legislators, will meet to assign the Interim Study Committee topics to be discussed during the summer and early fall.  The Interim Study Committees, which were reorganized by SEA80 this past session, delve deeper into issues that legislators felt warranted further investigation prior to passing.  The committees typically meet several times, hearing expert and often public testimony on issues, then deliberate and generate a final report that will usually contain recommendations for legislation for the upcoming session.  If legislation is recommended, a committee member will typically introduce it in the next session with the hope of it becoming a law.
Topics that have been recommended for possible discussion during the interim include:

  • —  School discipline, school start times and how to encourage teachers to work at poor performance schools (HEA1319)
  •   Child Services Oversight Committee review criminal background checks for certain entities by different agencies (HR5)
  • —  Human sex trafficking on the internet (HR12)
  • —  Causes of violence and violent crime (HR61)
  • —  Training of teachers who instruct students with neurological disorders (HR67)
  • —  Nullification of federal firearms legislation (SR38)
  • —  Home health workers and service providers (SR59)
  • —  Feasibility of the proposed new soccer stadium (SR75)
  • —  STD prevention and education (SR81)
  • —  Core 40, career & technical education classes, AP classes (HEA1213)
  • —  Whether father who abandons birth mother during pregnancy should be required to consent to adoption (SEA27)
  • —  Involuntary commitment of persons with substance abuse disorders (SCR13)
  • —  Cultural competency training as a requirement for licensure in healthcare profession (SR34)

MCCOY will be monitoring several of the above-mentioned topics if they are assigned to a study committee, particularly school discipline reform, and will be watching the Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services and Education committees.  These committees may be available for live streaming on the Indiana General Assembly’s website  The calendar on the homepage will tell you when and where the committee is meeting and will provide a link to watch on-line if available.  Stay tuned to MCCOY for on-going updates.

When should a foster youth stop receiving youth services?

 Written by: Erica Pahud

                                                                       (Margrove, 2012)
Most nonprofit foster organizations have an age cut-off of age 18.
The nonprofit organization that I currently work for, Indiana Youth Group, will allow some leniency for 19-year-old “adults,” but for the most part, when the youth becomes an adult they are referred to other organizations that offer adult programs.  These programs, though valuable, are detached from the continuous care on which foster youth rely.
It is my view that the cut-off for services should apply more to preparedness than age.  There are a multitude of reasons why it may be too soon to force an abrupt transition upon reaching adulthood upon age 18 (Stangler, 2014).  Some reasons are:
  • The obvious fact that facing adulthood is more challenging and even frightening to foster youth
  • Every youth aging out too soon has an impact on social costs, for examples, compensating for youth earning low wages or receiving government assistance
  • Resources and funds are available to foster care organizations, as there are less resources and funds available for adult organizations/programs
  • Having policy that allows a transitional period with the option to return to foster care if independent living isn’t successful is feasible
  • Having policy that ensures necessary skills needed in order for youth to succeed have been acquired is feasible
Constant changes in society, for example, the higher demand from employers for applicants to have a Master’s degree, reinforce these facts.  30 is the new 20, is it not?  Cutting-off a served youth too early could undo positive progress, causing them to significantly backslide. 
I would like to share a personal example.  My place of employment, Indiana Youth Group, recently received a call from a child that was kicked-out of his home at age 17 with no place to stay.  Because Indiana Youth Group is a safe home for kids experiencing family problems, we were able to provide him with information and support, while connecting him to foster care.  This particular child showed obvious signs of needing of help.  If he didn’t need help, he wouldn’t have gone online or to the phone book to find our organization.  Luckily, foster care will provide him all of the necessary things required for immediate survival as well as future success, but what if he were only allowed to stay for several months.  He would enter the foster care system, begin receiving services and recovering from family-related set-backs, and then suddenly be thrust into the “real world” with no option to stay in foster care longer if he so desires.  
So what needs to be done?
The answer is in prevention.  The way to prevent these problems is to invest more into youth’s futures.  Investment should focus on quality over quantity with the mind-set that “age is just a number.”  According to the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and their “Success Beyond 18” campaign, some success in youth staying in foster care beyond age 18 has already been measured, but more work needs to be done (Success Beyond 18).  Extending the age cut-off and allowing transitioning young adults to continue to receive program services until they are fully prepared is the most appropriate means for increasing foster youth success because it is the most achievable and feasible means. 
Story Source:
The above story is based on information provided by Huff Post Impact.
Article References:
1. Stangler, G. [Web log post]. (2013, July 28). Aging Out of Foster Care: The Costs of Doing Nothing Affect Us All. Huff Post Impact. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from
2. Success Beyond 18. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from
Photo Credit:
Margrove, R [Web log post]. (2012, May 17). Exam season has begun: feeling stressed? The Guardian.
Retrieved May 6, 2014 from