San Marcos Commission on Children and Youth                     Youth Funding Results

San Marcos Commission on Children and Youth Awards Funds

The San Marcos Commission on Children and Youth (SMCCY) has completed its first round of youth services funding, distributing $46,000 to ten different youth programs that satisfied needs of children in San Marcos, in line with the Youth Master Plan (www.sanmarcostx.gov/youthmasterplan).

The following programs and amounts have been awarded to youth organizations in San Marcos between May 2016 and May 2017:

Organization

Program

Funded

CASA of Central Texas
Fostering Futures

$5,000

Community Action, Inc of Central Texas
Texas Home Visiting Program

$4,000

Girls Empowerment Network
The 180 Program

$5,000

San Marcos Housing Authority
Chapultepec After-School Program

$2,500

San Marcos Housing Authority
Kids Against Drugs

$5,000

San Marcos Housing Authority
PODER Learning Center

$4,500

Texas State University
Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp

$5,000

Texas State University
Autism Summer Camp

$5,000

Texas State University
Goal:POST After School Program

$5,000

Texas State University
Aquatic Science Adventure Camp

$5,000

You can read more about these programs and their impact on the youth of our community in the summaries below.

For more information about the Youth Master Plan funding program or the San Marcos Commission on Children and Youth, please contact Jessica Ramos, Youth Services Manager at jramos@sanmarcostx.gov.

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CASA of Central Texas – Fostering Futures 

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Central Texas conducts a program called Fostering Futures and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. Fostering Futures focuses on improving outcomes for older and emancipating youth (ages 14-21 yrs). A growing number of youth in this age range stay in foster care as they prepare for independent adulthood. The total number of Hays children in State care increased a whopping 45% to 310 children (17% increase in 2014; TX Dept Family&Protective srvcs,2015 Data Books). The number of children without a CASA voice more than doubled to 142 children.

According to CASA’s 12-month report, the youth did have complex challenges but their advocates worked directly with youth to address any tribulation faced. They stated, “Our mission is to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court and child welfare system by recruiting, training and supporting community volunteers. Case Supervisors and/or Volunteer Advocates also participated in collaborative workgroups (Multi-Disciplinary Teams, MDT Leadership, Child Fatality Review Team, Family Violence Task Force) and community based trainings (Post Adopting Services, Collaborative Family Engagement.” They also stated, “During this grant year, several youth ran away, were incarcerated and/or were placed in mental health treatment centers. Casework activities included: attending CPS court for hearings; visiting youth at school and at placements as able (family relative homes, Residential Treatment Centers, Hays Juvenile Detention Center); participating in Circles of Support; attending treatment plan meetings and ARDs; serving as surrogate parent for SPED services; receiving reports from mental health therapists; school staff and probation officers; contacting Child Protective Services, parents and children’s attorneys; contact with siblings; and assisting in application for Gary Job Corps.”

For illustrative purposes, CASA shared a short case where their presence had a significant impact. According to reports, 3 siblings were in the custody of their father who tested positive for paraphernalia. A safety plan was put in place and CASA volunteers were appointed for assistance. Their volunteers were heavily involved in assisting with daily challenges, interfaced with school personnel and provided transportation to school and counseling appointments. Additionally, they maintained at least monthly contact with each youth through face-to-face visits, phone and texting. As a result of all of CASA’s efforts and help, they were dismissed from the case in April 2017.

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Community Action, Inc of Central Texas – Texas Home Visiting Program of Hays County

The Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas conducts a program called Texas Home Visiting Program of Hays County and the SMCCY granted $4,000 to this program. Texas Home Visiting supports communities in operating evidence-based home visiting programs while creating a coordinated, comprehensive system of services for pregnant women, young children, and their families. The Texas Home Visiting grant was awarded to Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas in May 2015.

According to Community Action, Inc.’s 12-month report, they are continuing to work to meet their goals. They stated through home visits, “Our parent educators use the curriculum Parents as Teachers to help mothers and fathers understand that they are the first teachers of their children. In the home visiting setting we have helped to educate families and invite fathers to workshops and trainings to increase their skills in fathering, understanding their child, and realizing the importance of being involved in their child’s development and education.” Workshops conducted “educated participants on the role parents, especially fathers, play in the lives of their children.” “The workshops helped to empower parents to support child development and success. Along with engaging topics, we also like to provide fathers and father figures the opportunity to act on what they have learned through father child activities.” “During the 24:7 Dad group fathers come together and form a bond with other fathers as they learn more about becoming self-aware, taking care of themselves, fathering, parenting, and building relationships” They also stated, “At our group connections, we have offered opportunity for support and the chance for parents to participate in developmental activities.” In the “Father Child Lego Workshop,” fathers and their children are able to play with blocks and Legos utilizing math skills, sorting, language skills and more. 

One father from the community, Jimmy Currier, attended the first Fatherhood Conference in May 2016 and explains how he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was very involved asking questions. As a result of attending the conference, he additionally signed up to attend the fall 24:7 Dad group. Further shared, is how Jimmy and his daughter were one of the father daughter duos dancing the night away at the Texas Home Visiting Program 2017 Daddy Daughter Dance in February. He and his wife in addition, signed up their little girl for the Texas Home Visiting Program. They are very happy about the program and look forward to their bi-weekly home visits from one of the parent educators from Community Action, Inc.

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Girls Empowerment Network- The 180 Program

The Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) conducts a program called The 180 Program and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. 180 is a prevention and intervention program designed to reach middle and high school girls involved in or at high risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. Its goals are to decrease rates of juvenile delinquency and increase in-school functioning, critical thinking skills and self-sufficiency. 180 reaches many girls after a first offense and helps them get back on track, preventing them from entering or re-entering the juvenile justice system.

According to GEN’s 12-month report, they exceeded their goals and initial program plans. They stated, “The 180 Program directly contributes to the mental health and prevention of risky behaviors in teen girls in San Marcos by providing them a safe place to process the challenges they are facing, gain access to peer support, and learn new skills and behaviors. As shared above, we exceeded our goals for increasing girls self-efficacy (contributing to their ability to set and achieve goals), their resistance to risky behaviors which would derail their plans for the future, and increased their resiliency and stress management/coping skills, which they can rely upon in trying times.” They also stated, “The mere presence of the 180 Program in new San Marcos Schools (San Marcos High School and Dorris Miller Middle School for long term, on going groups both semesters this school year and Owen Goodnight for a fall semester intensive group) is the expansion of services geared toward improving mental health & wellness. GEN was not in SMCISD with long term programming before; now we are thanks directly to the Youth Master Plan funding”.

Chelsea Dean-Martinez, the Program Coordinator in SMCISD, shared the following about her group at San Marcos High School, “I was so impressed with this group when we were talking about healthy relationships! When we defined boundaries, consent, and harassment, I could tell some girls were learning for the first time about how those things affect relationships. One particular proud moment through that was when one girl added that consent once is not consent forever. Just because you say yes once to something, one time, does not also mean yes for the future. She reminded the whole group how they have the right to say NO to things they don’t want to do, without qualification, without pushback, without negative consequences. I LOVED that and thought it was such an important thing for the girls to hear from one of their peers. 

 

I was also so proud when one girl referenced our rules about confidentiality for an outside scenario. She mentioned that she doesn’t mind keeping secrets for friends or partners unless they are talking about being hurt by someone, hurting someone else or themselves, just like the rules in our group state. I can see that these girls are absorbing our group content and apply it to their lives. They will be stronger and take good care of themselves because of our group time together.”

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 San Marcos Housing Authority – Chapultepec After-School Program 

The San Marcos Housing Authority conducts a program called the Chapultepec After-school Program and the SMCCY granted $2,500 to this program. The Chapultepec After-school Program provides support and encouragement to school-age youth in San Marcos. Youth get opportunities to learn many of the skills needed to become strong community leaders. Their activities build self-respect, teach conflict resolution, and support the development of leadership skills. The program also helps youth learn personal responsibility, goal setting, communication skills, and the importance of community involvement.

According to SMHA’s 12-month report, they were able to continue providing positive modeling and utilize their program plans for different domains of their priority area. They stated, “Because of our many years of work with kids in public housing, as well as the on-going training opportunities and the use of skilled volunteers, we are able to help children develop their potential. We are also able to help identify issues that may be negatively affecting their development. Many of our residents are young parents that benefit from the positive modeling we can provide.” “Service coordination is the primary strategy we employ when working with our residents. We help parents and children get connected to federal, state, and local resources.” They also stated, “In addition to the direct benefit to the children participating in our program, the availability of a safe place in the neighborhood for to go after school and during the summer helps parents participating in our self-sufficiency programs who are working or in school or training to be able to focus on their goals.”

Monique Valle, an intern for SMHA, shared a unique project that she designed to help the children in the program learn, understand, and better manage their emotions. She states, “Many children find it challenging to recognize their feelings and a harder time managing them. Working with children I came to realize it is quite normal for them to get angry, frustrated, or bored. Many times children don’t even realize what they are feeling or how they should respond to the situation. Learning how to have better control of your emotions can be difficult. When a child has a better understanding of what triggers them, whether it’s happy, angry, or sad they can have a positive outcome in future situations. This is why I decided to create a calming kit at my after school program. Being able to teach them about their emotions and triggers will allow them to handle a situation calmly.”

Monique goes on detailing how she funded her project and how the outcomes were. She noted how at first it was hard because the kids just wanted to play with the kits and a few were still getting distracted. As a result she created a “chill zone” to help the process and she states, “Many of my kids now even ask if they can go calm down on their own or tell me ‘I think she needs the calming kit’ when they see them acting up.” “The calming kits were a huge success that now centers are wanting to start making them for their kids.”

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San Marcos Housing Authority – Kids Against Drugs 

 The San Marcos Housing Authority conducts a program called Kids Against Drugs and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. Kids Against Drugs provides support and encouragement to school-age youth in San Marcos. Youth get opportunities to learn many of the skills needed to become strong community leaders. Their activities build self-respect, teach conflict resolution, and support the development of leadership skills. The program also helps youth learn personal responsibility, goal setting, communication skills, and the importance of community involvement.

According to SMHA’s 12-month report, they were able to continue providing positive modeling and utilize their program plans for different domains of their priority area. They stated, “Because of our many years of work with kids in public housing, as well as the on-going training opportunities and the use of skilled volunteers, we are able to help children develop their potential. We are also able to help identify issues that may be negatively affecting their development. Many of our residents are young parents that benefit from the positive modeling we can provide.” “Service coordination is the primary strategy we employ when working with our residents. We help parents and children get connected to federal, state, and local resources.” They also stated, “In addition to the direct benefit to the children participating in our program, the availability of a safe place in the neighborhood for to go after school and during the summer helps parents participating in our self-sufficiency programs who are working or in school or training to be able to focus on their goals.”

Cathy Carson, a local resident, shared the following of her and her daughters experience during the Family Science night, “I attended a science fair at K.A.D. I really didn’t know much about science fairs. I thought the kids were supposed to bring something that they made. To my surprise, there were booths set up inside. This science fair was for my child. Staff there demonstrated some very awesome, and interesting projects. Not only to show how things worked, but information that expressed how it was accomplished. Learning was very enjoyable for my child and also for myself. The demonstrations on science fair night helped me to understand and gave me insight on how a simple thing as how a flashlight worked. I’m so looking forward to many science fairs.”

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San Marcos Housing Authority – PODER Learning Center

The San Marcos Housing Authority conducts a program called PODER Learning Center and the SMCCY granted $4,500 to this program. The PODER Learning Center provides support and encouragement to school-age youth in San Marcos. Youth get opportunities to learn many of the skills needed to become strong community leaders. Their activities build self-respect, teach conflict resolution, and support the development of leadership skills. The program also helps youth learn personal responsibility, goal setting, communication skills, and the importance of community involvement.

According to SMHA’s 12-month report, they were able to continue providing positive modeling and utilize their program plans for different domains of their priority area. They stated, “Because of our many years of work with kids in public housing, as well as the on-going training opportunities and the use of skilled volunteers, we are able to help children develop their potential. We are also able to help identify issues that may be negatively affecting their development. Many of our residents are young parents that benefit from the positive modeling we can provide.” “Service coordination is the primary strategy we employ when working with our residents. We help parents and children get connected to federal, state, and local resources.” They also stated, “In addition to the direct benefit to the children participating in our program, the availability of a safe place in the neighborhood for to go after school and during the summer helps parents participating in our self-sufficiency programs who are working or in school or training to be able to focus on their goals.”

The PODER Learning Center shared a story from their December 2016 newsletter where they also informed of their success in being able to get more families involved as a result of their children’s participation in their after-school program. In the newsletter they stated, “Families were given an opportunity to shine in their uniqueness with a ‘Color Our World’ themed Family Night at the PODER Center. About 10 families attended that evening which resulted in about 35 attendees, not including volunteers!” After finishing their crafts and objectives, everyone went outside to do a one mile Fun Run around the neighborhood, “Parents became good examples as they promoted good health and support by running, walking, or jogging with their kids.” “After a quick water break and cooling off in the center, families scattered out in the back yard of the center for the big color fight!” In the end, “families went home with new memories and a new outlook: Maybe their worlds aren’t as grey as they thought they were and that it was up to them to fill it with color and life.”

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Texas State University – Aquatic Science Adventure Camps

 The Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center conducts a program called the Aquatic Science Adventure Camps and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. Aquatic Science Adventure Camps is a 6-day resident camp with sessions available for age groups 9-11, 11-13, and 13-15. Campers learn about water resources and have opportunities to enjoy nature in the beautiful Central Texas Hill Country. The camp features a variety of educational and recreational activities. Educational activities include field collecting of aquatic organisms from ponds, streams a flowing artesian well; microscope labs; water chemistry (measuring pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity) and viewing aquatic wildlife and spring systems from a glass-bottom boat. Other activities include cave exploration, rock climbing, swimming, river rafting, and an introductory scuba lesson.

According to Texas State University’s 12-month report, the Aquatic Science Adventure Camp, had well responses and are looking to improve measurements for how much students are learning at the camp. They stated, “We worked with Miller and Goodnight middle schools and SMHS to promote out-of-classroom learning opportunities. All attendees to camp participated in healthy, challenging activities such as swimming, scuba diving, rock-climbing, and other outdoor games. We hired local teachers (all from Hays CISD) to participate in our program and learn valuable information about our local environment and up-to-date science. We heavily promoted our program through Facebook advertising.” They also stated, “We’d like to have some better measurement of how much students are learning at camp. We would like to avoid a ‘pre-test/post-test’ method because campers are not very enthusiastic about it. We are developing a more integrated approach that measures student involvement along with success in activities that require certain knowledge to complete.”

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Texas State University – Autism Summer Camp 

The Texas State University Research Foundation conducts a program called the Texas State University Autism Summer Camp and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. Autism Summer Camp is a partnership between Texas State University’s Department of Health and Human Performance and Hays County San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD). This camp provides many children access to a quality summer camp experience designed to accommodate the special needs of children with autism. There are four 1-week camp sessions each summer with camp counselors assisting campers in daily schedules of dance, music, and arts.

According to the Research Foundation’s 12-month report, they are continuing to implement ways to increase different domains of abilities for participants with autism. They stated, “The SMCISD currently has about 75 school-aged children identified with autism and approximately 60-70% of them are from low-income families.” “This camp provides a service to the children with disability (autism) who are also financially disadvantaged.” “All counselors attend training sessions and are educated in camp curriculum, research assessments, and proper interaction skills for children with autism in an applied setting. They play, communicate, and interact with the children with autism on a day-to-day basis.” They also stated, “The daily schedule not only allows each camper to increase his/her fine and gross motor skills, sensory-motor development, self-esteem, and socialization skills, but also assists campers in choosing appropriate physical leisure time activities. It is our intention to provide campers with an enjoyable summer program that will prepare them too succeed in integrated settings now and in the future.”

A few parents shared the following comments about their thoughts of the camp, “Absolutely wonderful. Cannot thank Dr. Liu enough! Counselors were great had a spectacular time.” “This has been a great experience. My grandson is always excited to come here each day and very content.” “The best experience of this camp was, ‘how counselors and [the] director are so flexible meeting the needs of each camper. It is brilliant to have students interested in autism counseling the campers. Very satisfied.’” “Thank you for the camp. My son loved it. Please continue!

Camp counselors were also asked to reflect on their experiences and shared the following, “This was my first experience working with children, and I learned so much in the last 4 weeks. This is a hard field to go into because sometimes it can feel like making progress is slow, but it is so worth it. I learned how hard it is to make a small difference in a child’s life, but it is possible. I am prepared with so much compassion and patience to teach and work with children with autism as part of my future career.” “Being a counselor in the Autism Camp has been a tremendous honor and exciting experience as I better understand what I have read in books and learned theories. The entire experience has made me feel good, knowing I have helped make a student’s summer more socially engaged in a positive environment. I have not felt frustrated and my interaction with my camper has been a great experience.”

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Texas State University – Fun and Fit 4 Life Camp 

 The Texas State University Research Foundation conducts a program called Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. The Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp provides innovative experiences and activities in positive youth development, physical activity, health, and college readiness to children living in low income households residing in San Marcos community. Current funding enables children to participate during a portion of the summer. Resources secured from the San Marcos Youth Master Plan Funding will extend the camp and provide campers additional opportunities to engage in activities designed to promote physical activity and healthy life choices.

According to the Research Foundation’s 12-month report, they are maintaining developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive curriculum to engage children.  They stated, “This past fall and spring 46 kindergarten through 4th grade children and 24, 5th and 6th grade youth, all living in love income households are participating in the Fun & Fit 4 Life After School program. All participants come to Texas State University and engage in developmentally appropriate, innovative, and fun-filled physical activity lessons instructed by preservice physical education teachers from Texas State University.” They also stated, “The ongoing data collection this summer will serve to guide any adjustments we may need to incorporate into the program to increase participation in physical activity and/or enhance character development.”

The Research Foundation shared the principle and golden rule at the Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp. “At Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp C.P.R. awards are earned by campers that consistently demonstrate Cooperation, Participation, and Respect – C.P.R. 

 

C.P.R. is the guiding principle and golden rule at Fun & Fit 4 Life Camp. The Fun & Fit 4 Life Leadership Team believes that incorporating the C.P.R. philosophy will contribute to positive youth development. Teaching children at a young age that ‘they are responsible for their behavior and the manner in which they conduct themselves, and treat others, is crucial for our youth’. So in the midst of 50-60 children participating in high energy games and physical activities one might also see a couple of campers demonstrating cooperation by supporting and encouraging their fellow campers, assisting the coaches, and at times collaborating with other campers. Participation in all activities regardless of skill level, gender, and age nurtures a sense of inclusiveness and involvement not always present in youth physical activity programs. Respect refers to children demonstrating respect for themselves, other campers, and the coaches.”

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Texas State University – Goal: POST After School Program 

 The Texas State University Research Foundation conducts a program called Goal Post After School Program and the SMCCY granted $5,000 to this program. Goal Post is an engaging after-school program that provides opportunities for Miller Middle School students to achieve academic success, increase cognitive and social skills, and improve physical and emotional health. Goal Post affords Miller students opportunities to work in small groups with Texas State University students to complete homework and, through intentional initiatives facilitated by Texas State students, meet new friends, play movement-oriented games, and acquire important cognitive and social skills.

According to the Research Foundation’s 12-month report, they were able to perform objectives more efficiently than in the past due to funding. They stated, “We provided a safe, positive environment for students to gather after school to pursue academic improvement, have fun, and participate in guided activities to improve social and cognitive skills, and improve physical and emotional health of students. We were able to do this on a larger scale than in the past due to funding.” They also stated, “Goal Post is an excellent out-of-school time program that can be improved by funding the equipment and personnel needs of the program. We were able to purchase needed equipment, like 9 Square in the Air, which allowed Goal Post to be more self-sufficient and provide fun programming.”

The Research Foundation shared a story of one student who was hesitant to engage during the first few program meetings and often chose to play games with Texas State students rather than other Miller students, only because the “college kids” were persistent when inviting her to play. By the end of the 8 weeks, she was confidently and eagerly engaging both with Texas State students and other Miller students and even became a force to be reckoned with (and an encouraging model sportswoman) in the GaGa octagon. They explain how, “It was both an impressive transformation and a pretty standard story for Goal Post participants.”