On the Youth Advocate position

May 18, 2020

To the editor:

I am saddened to learn that this year’s Town Meeting will, once again, be responsible to defend our need for a Youth Advocate position. Our Dartmouth Youth Advocates have provided support for the youth of our community during times of developmental transitions and adverse childhood events. This has included supporting families facing a range of challenges such as homelessness, domestic violence, or substance use disorders.

According to trauma experts at the Child Trauma Training Center, children are more vulnerable than adults to traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. Covid-19 and precautions taken to address the pandemic have contributed to the children and youth of our community experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fears. For the duration of these measures, as well as the months to come, children, youth and adults alike will have to adjust to a new normal — one that includes social distancing and a sustained increase in isolation compared to pre-pandemic patterns.

For families facing a challenge such as a substance use disorder, individual support and advocacy for these young residents is critically important. The Youth Advocate, as a town office, would be able to provide much of that support to our children and families, without barriers many families may face in the wake of Covid-19 economic and social impacts.

It is imperative, then, that our residents consider these community needs and vote to ensure that this important position will remain funded and that it be filled, as soon as the hiring freeze is lifted.

Maggie Boyce