Most children in our community go to bed with a full stomach, a roof over their head, the knowledge that someone cares for them. Some do not. Some go sick, hurt, terrified, hungry or ignored. What standards will we accept for the children of Charlotte / Mecklenburg County?
The Children’s Alliance was formed around eight guiding principles:
School-age children spend 20% of their waking hours in school. Where are they when school is out?
- Juvenile crime is four times greater during after-school hours
- Youth are 37% more likely to become teen parents if they are not involved in such activities.
- Lack of supervision has been linked to increase likelihood of accidents, lower GPAs and achievement test scores, and greater likelihood of delinquent and high risk activities.
Children spend 50% more time out of school than in it. They need to fill this time exploring interests, experiencing new things, and expanding upon school lessons. From athletic to recreational, cultural to academic, programs can contribute to their social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. This focus area examines way to complement the resources of families and school, providing personalized adult attention, a positive peer group, and activities that hold their interest and build self-esteem.
Broadly defined, Community Support examines the many roles organized groups can play as a community resource for children. This involves everything from building neighborhood cohesiveness and implementing family-friendly practices in the workplace, to mentoring and supporting advocacy efforts, both formal and informal. Community Support reflects various opportunities to connect with our youth across this growing region.
Eight percent (8.4%) of families in Mecklenburg live below the poverty line. For a family of four, this means they have an income level of $20,065 or less. Tradeoffs between fundamental needs are a way of life. Food, shelter, clothing – these are not a given for many families right in our own community.
- 1 in 7 children in Mecklenburg County in receives food stamps.
- Almost fifteen percent (14.6%) of those living in poverty here are under the age of 18.
- Nine percent (9%) of children in Mecklenburg County are uninsured.
While often a seemingly insurmountable issue, basic initiatives in this category include school lunch programs, affordable quality housing to impart stability, creation of jobs that provide a livable wage, and enforcement of child support commitments.
For children to reach their full potential requires a shift in emphasis positive guidance, developing each student’s talents. The committee’s work encompasses children’s need from age of 0 to 18 years.
Area of interest include:
- Early care and education
- Individualized programs to reflect needs, abilities and potential
- Preparation for post-graduate life, career and/or college readiness and social issues
- Specials needs populations: limited English proficiency, early childhood and special education
- Social issues: substance abuse, discipline practices, diversity and tolerance
- Inclusion of parents and caregivers.
Emotional Well Being:
Children need an inner guide to grow into positive, contributing member of our community. They need to develop a sense of responsibility, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, respect for self and others, and ethical behavior consistent with the law. Children with such traits exhibit better judgment, higher resistance to peer pressure, and greater tolerance. As a focus area, Emotion Well Being recognized that all children need positive self esteem, hope, recognition of their interests, and awareness of possibilities, and opportunities to experience success.
The community-at-large cannot, nor should not supplant families as the primary party responsible for children’s moral and emotional well being. However, it can serve as a source of support, a safety net for families in need. Other qualified consistency, structure and a sense of accountability. Through Family Support, role models can support interests, provide guidance and communicate expectations.
- 18% of North Carolina high school students have seriously thought about suicide in the last year.
- In some neighborhoods, tooth decay rates run as high as 29%.
- Over 15% of children in Mecklenburg have a serious emotional disturbance or developmental disability. Of these, 60% are not receiving treatment.
- Approximately 16% of children in our community are overweight
- The rate of HIV in teens increased in 2003 by 62%
Children should always be and feel safe, physically and emotionally. This should be a give in the home, in daycare, in school, at all times. But it is not.
- Last year 11,000+ children were involved in investigations of neglect or abuse.
- Over 4,000 people were charged with domestic violence misdemeanors last year, with over 30,000 calls to the police. But there are no domestic violence services available for children under five.
- In FY 2007, the United Family Services Victim Assistance Program assisted 3,402 victims of domestic violence with legal advocacy including safety planning and court accompaniment.
- In 2007, the Shelter for Battered Women in Charlotte provided housing for over 213 children. With only 29 beds, over 500 people were turned away. Other cities our size have 200+ beds.
- 40% of girls aged 14 to 17 know someone his or her age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- In 2004, 157 children died in Charlotte, nearly 25 of unnatural causes.