Thriving Youth and Families

Getting all children off to a good start in life has innumerable long-term benefits for our community, including a stronger economy, lower poverty, and less crime. Children need healthy, supportive families, great schools, and caring communities. 

Key Indicator I. 
Academic Achievement Gap

About this Indicator: As part of its “Equity Accountability Model,” Montgomery County Public Schools calculates and reports the percent of various FARMS and Non-FARMS student populations at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels that are meeting readiness measures in 2 of 3 categories (classroom, district, and external) for both Literacy and Mathematics. At present this data is available only for 2018. The visualizations below present these figures for both Elementary and Middle School. 
1.  How are we doing?
Elementary 
Middle School
2.  What is the story behind the curve?
Positive Factors
Available resources. The County provides a high level of financial and other resources to our students, including access to early childhood education and  food and nutrition for those in need. Education is a priority and a high-profile policy issue.
Focus on specific needs. MCPS has a strong focus on literacy at the elementary school level and is intentionally targeting opportunity and achievement gaps at all levels.
Negative Factors
Institutional racism and inequities. Deficiencies and biases in the curriculum “track” students into advanced versus remedial classes and the lack of a bilingual curriculum make for an uneven playing field for students, exacerbated by disproportionate disciplinary actions based on race. Schools are segregated by geography and socio-economic factors and there is resistance from the community to adjust school boundaries, while the teacher population does not have the diversity to reflect the students they educate.
Ineffective Strategies and Management. Some areas experience a disproportionate or inappropriate allocation of resources, a lack of out-of-school-time support and/or needed wraparound services, possibly due to ineffective strategies and management.
Changing academic needs. The current curriculum does not meet 21st century requirements of students, the workforce, and the community. A greater emphasis must be placed on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and there needs to be more quality instructors hired in those subject areas, and early childhood education needs to be a priority.
Student Support. There is a lack of academic support as students transition to their next grade level, and especially from elementary to middle to high school.  For too many students, low levels of parent education makes these shifts, and the overall academic support the students receive, all the more challenging.
3.  What strategies do we recommend to turn the curve? 
 1.      Restructure MCPS’s budget and planning to focus on strategies and measurable student outcomes.  Categorize the MCPS budget by strategies and include measurable student outcomes, with a focus on improving literacy and math skills. The details of the budget should include the cost, the impact, and the timeline for implementation of each individual strategy in order to determine cost-effectiveness and what is and is not working.  
 2.      Address the socio-economic and racial imbalances in the school system.
a.      Provide all MCPS staff with racial equity and trauma training.
b.      Increase the diversity of the MCPS staff.
 3.      Intensive case management and academic interventions.  
a.      Students whose skills are below grade level have access to individualized attention that follows the child from pre-kindergarten until 12th grade. 
b.      Measure each student individually and develop a reporting system that tracks performance year over year. 
c.       Give every child an IEP (Individual Education Plan). All students should be encouraged and have an opportunity to reach their potential. To that end, the educational system should meet each student where they are and take them as far as they can go. Progress shouldn't be limited by grade or time.
 4.      Have a child and youth services budget with year-round schooling.  Incentivize MCPS to adopt a “community schools strategy” in schools with concentrated poverty, including Linkages to Learning, a comprehensive school-based prevention and intervention initiative that connects students and their families to services and resources that address the social, economic, health, and emotional issues that may interfere with academic success at school. 

Key Indicator II.  
Percent of Children Ready for Kindergarten

About the Indicator: Ready at Five, in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, administers annually the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) to a sample of kindergartners across the County. The KRA measures school readiness (knowledge, skills and behaviors) across four learning domains: Language & Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Well-being & Motor Development, and Social Foundations (https://www.readyatfive.org/).
1.  How are we doing?
KRA data suggests that just under half of Montgomery County kindergarteners show up ready for school; and while largely consistent over the past few years, the most recent reporting year shows a slight decline in readiness.
2.  What is the story behind the curve?
Positive Factors
 Existing resources. Because Montgomery County prioritizes a healthy community and quality education, there are currently Pre-Kindergarten/early childhood resources and opportunities, as well as vital wraparound services (healthcare, mental health caregivers, dental, nutrition, enrichment), infrastructure (libraries, family support centers), programs and referral networks already in place.
 A robust economy. The County can support the necessary programs, in part because we have low unemployment and a highly educated workforce.
 “No wrong door” approach. There are multiple points of entry to find and get support services.
Negative Factors
 Limitations of current resources. There is a finite amount of quality, diverse, and affordable childcare and educators, and the existing wealth/opportunity gap (across housing, transportation, nutrition, healthcare, etc.) means that some cannot access these services.
 Barriers and a lack of coordination. The system to connect clients to programs is poor, and clients face a range of obstacles including transportation and a lack of affordable housing near transit nodes.
 Family issues. The development of a child under five may be stifled for reasons such as limited parent education and/or engagement, challenges inherent in adapting to a new culture and in accommodating different cultures, economic stress and a lack of economic mobility, and food insecurity.
 Health-related issues. Families may encounter a lack of healthcare for adults, inadequate reproductive health services, and at home there can be a generally unhealthy environment (lead, mold, social issues, etc.)
 The early childhood education system.  Childcare is expensive and may simply be unaffordable for some.  And the childcare that is affordable often will have underpaid staff, high turnover, and a lack of cultural diversity.  Teachers with less experience tend to be found in communities with high poverty.
3.  What strategies do we recommend to turn the curve?
 1)      Advocate for universal access to pre-kindergarten and early childcare and education.
2)      Provide a childcare subsidy continuum to ensure universal access to early care and education for public, non-profit, and for-profit providers. 
 3)      Create a “new” early care/education coordinating structure to:
a.      Frame/advocate for funding;
b.      Develop guidelines for best practices and quality (using data);
c.       Develop private and nonprofit partnerships;
d.      Ensure culturally competent navigation and access to early care and education;
e.      Expand “stock of early care/education availability”; and
f.        Coordinate opportunities for community-based resources (libraries, parent resource centers, places of worship).
 4)      Adopt policies that address systemic barriers to allow for, for example, additional Family Resources (Judy) Centers, including incentives to attend.
 5)      Create/increase classroom space to accommodate Pre-K students.
a.      Extend MCPS building use into the late afternoon/evening.
b.      Explore using empty office or retail space, houses of worship and private homes.

Key Indicator III. 
Life Expectancy Gap

About the Indicator: Life expectancy data is from the Maryland Department of Health and is reported as a three-year average in the third year.
1.  How are we doing?
The gap between Non-Hispanic White residents and Black residents has been narrowing, but more work is needed to understand the specific risk factors for each sub-population and how they can be addressed.
 2.  What is the story behind the curve?
Positive Factors
 Improved accessibility to healthcare. There has been an increase in infrastructure for health and wellness services to serve vulnerable communities such as immigrant families and uninsured populations (school-based wellness centers, behavioral health and crisis services, community clinics, etc.), coupled with increased awareness (public education). 
 Improved ability to monitor. There is infrastructure and programs to monitor health outcomes that feature solid metrics to assess the health of the County.
Negative Factors 
A widening opportunity gap. There is a growing “opportunity gap” in terms of access to resources such as healthcare, transportation, food, and educational opportunities. There is also a lack of outreach/education on those options that are available in the community for accessing resources.
Healthcare costs. Healthcare costs are high and increasing. And there is limited financial support for organizations that provide healthcare.
 Racial and other systemic barriers.  Racial and other systemic barriers and cultural stigmas additionally limit access to and the use of healthcare services.  More generally, these kinds of societal factors impact life expectancy.  
 3.  What strategies do we recommend to turn the curve?  
 1)      More inter-agency collaboration needed (e.g., among aging, health, social services, recreation, and parks).  There are opportunities for agencies to work together more effectively to better leverage existing services in the areas of aging, health, social services, recreation, parks, and elsewhere, and to develop a common approach to data and evaluation that can spur further cooperation and “affinity based” health programs.
 2)      Support aging in place infrastructure.  Include aging in place and in communities.
 3)      Provide targeted maternal support for pregnant women and mothers.
 4)      Provide targeted support and resources for veteran families.
 5)      Increase funding for digital or technology-based health awareness and illness prevention campaigns.  Ensure these campaigns are culturally and linguistically accessible.

The Team

Team Captain:
Brigid Howe
Team Members:
Angie Ardis
Jud Ashman
Shannon Babe-Thomas
Chris Barclay
Mark Bergel
Shruti Bhatnagar
Gordon Brenne
Yvette Butler
Sharon Friedman
Maria Gomez
Pat Grant
Ron Halber
Mimi Hassanein


Brigid Howe
Omege Jawonezi
Kim Jones
Evelyn Kelly
Cara Lesser
Diane Lill
Chris Lloyd
Ann Mazur
Lori Melman
Marice Morales
Aryani Ong
Jill Ortman-Fouse
Grace Rivera
Brian Roberts
David Rodich
Neel Saxena


Laurie-Anne Sayles
Maritza Solano
Laura Stewart
Ananya Tadikonda
Crystal Townsend
Diane Vu
Chris Wilhelm
Art Williams
Mark Woodard
Maya Zegarra

Facilitator: 
Lauren Chambers

Recorders: 
Erika Lopez-Finn
Deborah Lambert

Public feedback and questions from the CE’s Listening Sessions relating to this Priority Outcome reflect concerns about:
NOTE: Naturally for this Priority, many issues were raised that are under the control of MCPS and the Board of Education, such as: the known gaps between the quality of schools and programming offered across the County (including Magnet programs), addressing capacity/overcrowding issues, increasing STEM education while complementing that with Arts and Humanities offerings, fighting hate crimes and racism and combating bullying in schools. Below are issues raised that are more in the purview of MCG, though perhaps not completely in that they may require collaboration with MCPS.
  • Improving our broadband infrastructure (i.e. equal access for students and others), most notably in the Poolesville area, and more generally up-county and in the Ag Reserve area.
  • Ensuring affordable daycare and after-school programming for all children, including those with disabilities
  • Expanding Pre-K.
  • Ensuring affordable community college tuition.
  • Increasing non-MCPS services that support children (health, mental health, recreation, etc.).
  • Creating affordable living options for seniors.
  • Addressing lead exposure levels in schools and other facilities.
  • Increasing mental health treatment, services and awareness.
  • Supporting the County’s immigrant families.
  • Enacting community policing and fostering civil dialogue to address the increasing divides between communities in the County.
  • Engaging and hearing the concerns of younger County residents (in their 20s).
  • Combating obesity in our youth.
  • Committing resources to the young LGBTQ+ community who don’t have supportive families.
  • Finding the balance between affordable housing and the taxable wealth that funds schools and other services.
  • Supporting student clubs that build skills for success school and life.
 A public survey on the transition website collected input from residents as well; Respondents conveyed the following related to this Priority Outcome:
  • The most frequently cited issues were schools and education. Respondents supported investment in schools to ensure quality education and meet students’ non-academic needs, including access to food and social services. Many responses focused on the importance of culturally competent services and equity among schools and among students within the same school.
  • Early childhood education and childcare were likewise priorities for respondents, many of whom suggested the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten. The availability of affordable childcare was recognized as an issue closely tied to equity in that it affects parents’, and by extension, children’s, opportunities for success.
  • Many respondents identified recreation as a priority, with suggestions to support parks and green spaces and provide after-school and summer programming.
  • Survey responses highlighted the importance of health care and mental health, including culturally competent resources and education for diverse populations.
  • A variety of social services were identified as important for youth and families, with a focus on their role in promoting equity.
  • The issue of affordable housing was frequently cited as an important factor for thriving youth and families, and some respondents acknowledged the overlap among priority areas.
  • Other needs included in multiple responses were career development, community engagement, drug and alcohol prevention, financial literacy, higher education, parenting and violence prevention, and transportation

Performance Index: Thriving Youth and Families

Below can be found the Montgomery County Government Departmental Performance Measures that align with the County Executive's Priority to ensure that we have thriving youth and families in Montgomery County.