January 30, 2023

Youth workers need mental health resources. A $20M grant aims to help

The Indiana Youth Worker Well-Being Project is a statewide effort to improve the lives of people who work with children. - FILE PHOTO: Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

The Indiana Youth Worker Well-Being Project is a statewide effort to improve the lives of people who work with children.

FILE PHOTO: Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

A coalition of youth-serving organizations has announced plans to serve youth development professionals. The Indiana Youth Worker Well-Being Project is a statewide effort to improve the lives of people who work with children.

The coalition includes the Indiana Afterschool Network and the Indiana Youth Institute, among others. Planned initiatives include peer support groups and increased access to mental health services.

Tammy Silverman is the CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute.

“What this does is really acknowledges that we rely on youth workers a tremendous amount to serve and support our kids,” said Silverman. “We also acknowledge that they've been through a lot in the past couple of years. And so we are really leaning into to assess how we can better support these youth serving professionals.”

Goals for the project were guided by focus groups and surveys that found many youth development professionals experience trauma in the workplace. Many also reported a lack of mental health services.

“They're the folks that show up each and every day that provide that extra support and energy around our children,” said Silverman. “Investing in them really is an investment not only in the individual youth workers, but also in the well being of all of our children.”

The Lilly Endowment will fund the project with a $20 million grant to the Indiana Youth Institute. The money will be spent over the next four years.

Contact WFYI economic equity reporter Sydney Dauphinais at sdauphinais@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @syddauphinais.

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