The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) is investing in K-12 youth with a $5,000 grant award presented to Youth First, Inc.
The grant will allow for mental health support through school social work services available to approximately 3,900 students in selected Martinsville and Mooresville schools, including Bell Intermediate Academy, Martinsville High School, Paul Hadley Middle School, and Mooresville High School.
Data from 2023 County Health Rankings shows that young people in Morgan County are faced with county-level concerns that put them at a higher risk for substance misuse and other risky behaviors. For example, 20% of adults report excessive drinking, there is a drug overdose rate of 34 per 100,000 residents, and there is a suicide rate of 21 per 100,000 people, all of which are higher than the Indiana state average. Data also indicates a Mental Health Provider shortage in Morgan County, with one provider to 1,340 residents (per 100,000), which is double the state average of one to 530.
Youth First addresses these issues by placing highly trained mental health professionals, primarily master’s-level social workers, in Morgan County schools (at no cost to students or their families), where they are equipped with evidence-based strategies to help young people navigate life challenges without turning to risky behaviors or self-harm.
Youth First Mental Health Professionals build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills. They also coordinate with community partners such as the Boys and Girls Club of Morgan County and the Morgan County Substance Abuse Council, among others, to connect students and families to resources and services.
Brittani Bentley, President of the Community Foundation of Morgan County, says: “CFMC is thankful for organizations like Youth First. Our youth have voiced concern over their access to mental health programs, and Youth First works alongside our school staff, the students and their parents, to prepare for a successful life by building resiliency and positive coping skills. Youth First is unique in their approach to serving students in their time of need.”
About Youth First, Inc.:
Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with schools and embeds highly trained mental health professionals, primarily master’s level social workers, who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to vital resources. Bilingual and parent engagement support personnel are included in the agency’s support services, along with community programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. The agency’s service footprint includes 125 schools across 14 Indiana counties with services and programs accessible to over 52,000 students along with parents, caregivers, and educators. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org.