Helping Families Focus on Healing
Stanford Youth Solutions (Stanford) frequently acts as an emergency safety-net provider for our most disadvantaged families in our mental health and foster care programs. The Lifeline Fund offers strategic, targeted assistance to at-risk youth and families by providing financial resources to meet basic needs or provide educational or social opportunities as clients work toward completing treatment and recovery goals. Lifeline Fund goals are to increase stability for youth and families in crisis and enhance permanent and healthy relationships.
The Lifeline Fund is not a handout – it is an investment. This targeted and strategic support empowers challenged and vulnerable youth and their families to become stable, safe, and connected to school, family, friends and the community. Your investment in the Lifeline Fund plays a vital role in their recovery.
As many of our families are not able to meet their basic needs, they are also unable to provide structured activities or social and educational experiences such as afterschool programs, summer camps, tutoring, school supplies, behavior incentives and child care. It is imperative to offer strategic financial assistance to encourage children and families to continue their difficult work to overcome significant challenges and present children educational and social opportunities similar to their peers.
The Fund focuses on several levels of basic needs; 1) food, clothing and shelter, 2) personal safety, wellbeing and stability, and 3) belonging with friends, family and community. Alleviating the challenges of food, shelter and clothing, research shows increased ability to focus on healing. By funding art, sports, educational or music programs, camps or clubs, Stanford provides challenged and vulnerable youth with an option to feel connected to school, friends and the community.
Stanford combines targeted financial support through Lifeline when necessary, integrated with mental health programs and support services allowing the youth and their family to stablize and focus on treatment goals and recovery. Providing this strategic assistance promotes positive outcomes while connecting them to natural supports and community resources improves their ability to sustain success.
Outcomes of the Lifeline Fund will minimize the gaps of clients’ critical basic needs to improve behavioral and mental health functioning and strengthen family relationships while using our programs. Stanford will measure stabilization and connection to resources during treatment.
Stanford serves low income, at-risk young people with behavioral and mental health challenges (aggression, substance abuse, depression, etc) and their families in Sacramento County. Client ages range from 1-21. Within our combined programs, Stanford serves more than 630 children annually, in addition to their siblings and caregivers, creating a broader reach of nearly 2,000 individuals. Their ethnicity is 32.8% African American, 31% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic/Latino, 12.7% Multi-ethnic, 1.7% Asian American/Pacific Islander, .8% Native American, and 6% unknown. The gender breakdown is 63% male and 37% female.
Children and youth are referred to our programs and services through the Child Welfare System: Sacramento County Department of Behavioral Services, Child Protective Services and Department of Probation. These young people experience difficulties at school, in family relationships and suffer a lack of resources; when combined with poverty, histories of abuse, neglect and mental health challenges, there are overwhelming barriers to overcome impacting their overall wellbeing.
The Need for a Lifeline
A major determinant of outcomes for children, youth, and their families is their mental health. Low-income children and youth are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges and are at increased risk of a wide range of negative educational, social, behavioral or health outcomes. . Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty. Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. Investments in the most vulnerable children are critical.
More than 80% of our client families served live below the poverty level – a meager $23,000 for a family of four. However, the Self-Sufficiency Standard indicates that in order to meet basic needs that families face on a daily basis – housing, food, child care, medical expenses, transportation, and other necessary spending, living in Sacramento County would require $52,891.
According to the US Census Bureau, children represent 24% of the population. Yet, they comprise 34% of all people in poverty. Among all children under 18, 44% live in low-income families and approximately one in every five (21%) live in poor families.
- 21% of low-income children and youth aged 6 to 17 have mental health problems
- 57% of these with mental health problems come from households living at or below the federal poverty level
- The Sacramento County’s Children’s Report Card states that 85% of current or former foster youth have serious mental health issues, compared with 8% of transition age youth in the general population.
Creating a Sustainable Impact
It is hard to be concerned about much else if you are hungry, afraid for your life or the lives of others, worried about where you might sleep tonight or how you pay for tutoring services for your child. Many times, clients are faced with making difficult choices to serve their basic needs. It could be as complex as a single mother having to choose between paying rent by staying in an abusive relationship and the safety and well-being of herself and her children or as simple as a youth needing to have their laptop repaired.
The Lifeline Fund can be used by all of our mental health and Foster Care programs when staff determine there is a important need to be addressed and no other community resource is available. Stanford identifies needs through regular and frequent case management meetings with clients. If a need is identified, Stanford links families to existing community resources and natural supports whenever possible to encourage independence and sustainability. Examples include food banks, shelters, hotlines, and community programs.
If there are no existing resource available, Stanford staff can use the Lifeline Fund to create a meaningful and long-term impact in youth and families’ lives and that ties into the client’s overall treatment goals. Youth and families must be participating and actively engaged in their treatment plan or Lifeline funds are not offered. As their treatment plans progress, Stanford helps create plans for self-sufficiency to reduce dependence on outside resources.
All of Stanford’s programs and services have the goals of permanency, sustainable results and increasing the quality of life for the youth and their family. The Lifeline Fund enables youth and families to focus beyond their basic needs and empowers them to make healthy, positive choices.
Use of the Lifeline Fund
Generous contributions will help provide food, clothing, shelter, transportation, school supplies, or structured, social activities such as afterschool programs for approximately 100 Sacramento children. 100% of any grant funding awarded would be fully dedicated to provide resources to children. The needs of this unique group are complicated and vary by individual and family as such, funds may be dispersed according to each client’s particular requirements. Not every client will utilize Lifeline Funds.
Examples of Lifeline Fund Use
- A family received assistance to pay for a phone bill, enabling them to maintain a safety plan
- A family received funds for an emergency rent payment to prevent an eviction and homelessness
- New beds were provided for a family moving into their first apartment
- Two children received new winter coats
- A 9-year old foster child received tutoring services to get up to grade level
- Families purchased school clothes for their children
- A child was able to attend summer camp, whose family otherwise could not afford the activity
- A youth joined a boxing class to reduce his stress level
- A teen received a uniform for ROTC, to help achieve education and vocational goals
The total annual Lifeline Fund budget is based on serving 600 clients with an average distribution of $250 per client. Stanford is seeking Lifeline funds to grow the fund balance to reach the desired amount of $150,000. Stanford provides the administration and oversight of the fund as an in-kind contribution to sustain the fund. Currently, the Lifeline Fund balance is $67,000. 100% of all Lifeline Funds go directly to improve the lives of youth and families.
The Lifeline Fund is not a source of income for individuals or a permanent resource for low-income families. Rather, it is a fund that can be accessed when no other public service or resource is available with the aim of directly benefiting the child.
Measurement and Tracking
Stanford is committed to our youth’s success and to that end utilizes a measurement system for every employee to support our strategic goals. Stanford is dedicated to positive and measurable outcomes through a data-driven process. To that end is unique among other non-profits in that it staffs an internal Research Department to evaluate the outcomes our youth and families achieve.
Stanford measures Program progress and success through regular evaluations conducted by our Research Department that track children’s and families’ outcomes. The Research Department also ensures the efficacy of our Evidence-Based Practice models within each Program.
The Lifeline Fund has an application and approval process for management to review before distributing funds. Within that process is a checklist to ensure the use of existing resources and partnerships to provide the maximum benefit to each child and family. Our Finance Department provides the systems and support to track Fund expenses and usage.
Program staff and management provide oversight and approval of Lifeline Fund requests to ensure that expenses meet client treatment goals and fit within the purpose of the Lifeline Fund grant. Program staff are also required to provide feedback to the Development and Finance Departments on the use of funds and how the funds made a difference in each child and family’s life. That feedback then generates a report to those that support the Lifeline Fund.
Be a Lifeline
Empowering others to take charge of their lives and actions strengthens families and communities. Utilizing specific and strategic support, combined with programs and services allowing challenged youth and their families to concentrate on healing is a great way to sustain your investment in Lifeline. Although it doesn’t even the playing field for our youth and families, it does create opportunities for real growth and change. Your partnership in the Lifeline Fund plays a vital role in their recovery. Donate today!