LaTavia Little, executive director of Treatment Resources for Youth, has her hands full.
It's partly the work: Her Baltimore nonprofit helps teenagers and pre-teens avoid or battle substance abuse in a city where many residents struggle with drug addiction. But she has organizational challenges, too. Treatment Resources merged with another provider, Northwest Baltimore Youth Services, in July.
How much need do you see for substance abuse treatment for pre-teens and teenagers in Baltimore?
Our children are exposed to messages about drugs and alcohol and [are] beginning to experiment at a much younger age than people might expect. That is why we put so much emphasis on substance abuse education and prevention. That is why we go into middle schools, and we need to go into elementary schools as well.
The merger has given Treatment Resources the capacity to have more of an emphasis on prevention services. Baltimore City is abundant with adults in treatment and in need of treatment. Our goal is to have an impact that will keep Baltimore City youth from ever entering the adult treatment system.
How do you cover the costs — do clients usually have insurance? And did finances play a role in prompting the recent merger?
Treatment Resources relies heavily on grant funds. However, many of our clients do have medical assistance [such as Medicaid], which does cover the cost of outpatient substance abuse services but not necessarily all of the costs associated with other services the adolescent might need.
Funding was a major factor in the final decision to merge with Northwest Baltimore Youth Services. The grant funds of both programs were cut significantly over the past two fiscal years, which has decreased our staff but not the need for our services. We are hoping to have one larger, stronger program rather than two struggling programs. We are so grateful for support from members of the community — every donation helps.
How did you get started in this line of business?
I have seen the impact of drugs and alcohol on families and communities and how it can change your entire future. I believe every young person has the potential to be a successful and fulfilled adult, but some of our teens need help navigating their impressionable years so that they can reach that point in adulthood. I have always enjoyed working with young people, and I wanted the opportunity to have an impact — to make a difference.
What's a typical day on the job for you?
Wow! A typical day on the job is pretty hectic these days! I am between both sites daily trying to navigate this transition in a way that we will eventually work and be viewed as one program with two sites. I am still getting used to it myself. There are many layers to merging, and it will take time to work through all of them.
Right now, my biggest priority is to protect my funding. What that means is that even in the midst of all that is happening, we must continue to meet the needs of Baltimore City's youth.
Running a business, helping young adults in trouble and managing a merger can all be pretty stressful on their own, let alone together. What do you do to unwind?
Now more than ever, I find myself looking forward to Fridays and the weekend! I don't feel like I always have enough time for myself or to rest, but I have some very good friends and a fun family — immediate and extended. I most enjoy being with them, and that is usually how I unwind.
Previous job: Clinical director at Treatment Resources for Youth
Residence: Northwest Baltimore
Education: Western High School (1990); Towson University (bachelor's in mass communication with a minor in business administration in 1994); University of Maryland School of Social Work (master's in 1998)
Family: Husband and two sons
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, going to church, exercising and scrapbooking