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Maryland families: Fear not, help is on the way | READER COMMENTARY

Studies show that paternity leave provides significant, unique benefits to children, women, businesses, and men themselves.
Studies show that paternity leave provides significant, unique benefits to children, women, businesses, and men themselves. (Dreamstime/TNS)

I am writing in response to your May 6 article, (“Maryland Gov. Hogan announces $25 million project to help children reverse effects of COVID pandemic”) where Gov. Larry Hogan announced “Project Bounce Back” to support youth as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services wants Maryland families and youth to know that help is on the way.

While confirmed cases of COVID-19 can be clearly tracked, the impact of the pandemic on mental health is not as easily quantifiable. We know that young people have been particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, and I am proud of the trauma-informed response that Maryland is able to provide, especially for our youth. Despite monumental challenges, Maryland has a plan.

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The Maryland Children’s Cabinet, in coordination with member child-serving agencies and community stakeholders with support from the Children’s Cabinet Interagency Fund, strives to increase the well-being of Maryland’s families to achieve a safer Maryland. The Cabinet recently issued its 2021-2023 Three-Year Plan, which identifies priorities, such as increasing trauma-informed practices and reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), as an overarching approach to support the collective work of the Cabinet through its funded programs and strategies. Data show that unmitigated ACEs can have long-lasting impacts and lead to negative health and social outcomes for young people as they grow up.

Governor Hogan recently signed a new executive order making Maryland a national leader in addressing ACEs. He recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the health, emotions, education and development of Maryland youth. Through this order, the governor is ensuring that the state’s policies promote the understanding of the impacts of adversity, toxic stress and trauma on early childhood brain development, and promote resilience through protective factors and programming.

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We understand that even with the great team that we have, we can only continue to change Maryland for the better with the assistance of our partners and the citizens of Maryland. This is why we continue to look for opportunities that encourage collaboration between state, local and federal partners from multiple disciplines such as “Project Bounce Back,” as well as engaging citizens like you, who can help us create a safer Maryland for all. Here’s what you can do: Offer positive affirmation to a child in your life; help rebuild a strong sense of community, connection and support; help those in need to access youth-specific resources; and support community hubs for activities, resources and trauma-informed communities. My office can provide more resources to assist in this task.

The past 15 months have challenged us all. The adversities faced by our children, youth and families are great, but there is hope in Maryland. Together we are Maryland Strong, and together we can continue to make Maryland a place where children, youth, and families thrive.

Glenn Fueston

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services.

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