children an equal opportunity to learn, and we appreciate the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience about this topic.
The human services needs of children and their families are urgent and growing. Many children do not receive the services they need in order to learn and to reach their full potential. The National Commission on the Role of the School and the Community in Improving Adolescent Health issued a ''Code Blue" alert:
For the first time in the history of this country young people are less healthy and less prepared to take their places in society than were their parents and this is happening at a time when our society is more complex, more challenging, and more competitive than ever before (National Commission, 1989).
The current system is not working. Services are often fragmented, duplicative, or underused. They are more frequently driven by funding sources and program guidelines than by the needs of children and families.
Meeting the needs of the whole child would enhance the ability of children and teachers to focus on learning.
Integrated services make more efficient use of limited funds.
Coalitions are more capable of addressing multifaceted problems effectively and can accomplish more toward reaching common goals than organizations can when working independently.
The following statistics exemplify problems in Maine that interfere with learning and that can be addressed more effectively by integrated services:
Thirty-seven thousand (12 percent) juveniles live in households with incomes far enough below the federal poverty line that they qualify for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The proportion of youth living in poverty has been steadily increasing.
Nearly 30 percent of teenagers say they have seriously considered killing themselves, and 10 percent have tried to commit suicide at least once.
Ten percent of all births are to unmarried teens who have not completed 12 years of school.
More than one-fifth (21 percent) of youth report having carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club during the past month. This figure is for in-school youth in the safest state in the nation!