Washington County Maryland Local Management Board
2017 – 2018
Washington County, MD
Research, Community Engagement, Survey
Study of Disconnected Young Adults
In April 2015, Governor Larry Hogan selected four initiatives of focus for the Governor’s Office of Children and Maryland Children’s Cabinet, which aligned with his goal of an economically secure Maryland. One of those strategic goals, to improve outcomes for disconnected youth, was determined through a 2016 county-level Community Needs Assessment to be the highest priority in Washington County. In response to that finding, the county’s Local Management Board and Office of Community Grants Management decided to undertake a research project to develop one or more strategies to assist the disconnected young adult population in gaining employment or enrollment at an educational institution and ultimately becoming self-sufficient.
For this study, TPMA engaged 74 individuals from 60 community agencies, such as health and human service providers and local government representatives, to establish a relationship that provided opportunities for communication about the study to young adults in the community. TPMA then interviewed 22 service providers about service gaps for the disconnected youth population, surveyed 40 disconnected young adults or their family members, and conducted focus groups that included 24 young adults. Additionally, TPMA gathered secondary data from the U.S. Census Bureau to provide context for the findings from the primary data collection, then searched for research-informed programs that have been shown to address the specific needs and barriers identified through the survey and focus groups.
The survey, focus groups, and service provider conversations all provided different pieces of information about the challenges that disconnected young adults face in Washington County. Disconnected young adults reported facing multiple challenges when trying to find employment or education opportunities in the county. Though the reasons were different for each young adult, on average, disconnected young adults reported having two main reasons for their disconnection. Some risk factors and opportunities for disconnected young adults included: life skills, technical skill training, transportation, living-wage jobs, and program/service navigation. TPMA recommended bolstering the county’s current programming to better serve the population by utilizing elements from a variety of research-informed programs that have been shown to address the barriers experienced by the county’s disconnected young adults.
After the report was finalized and presented in the county, the Local Management Board voted to release a Request for Proposals to provide funding to an organization that could implement Centralized Disconnected Young Adult Reengagement Services that would link to the county’s current programming assets and offer service navigation both before and after linking a disconnected young adult with a career or educational opportunity. This County program is currently in the first year of operation.