Improving behavioral health and post-high school outcomes for girls in Florida

Committed to improving health outcomes for young girls, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida is investing $20,000 in the Pace Center for Girls. This investment will expand access to individual, family and group counseling services and will support Pace’s initiative to improve graduation rates for girls in Florida.

Factors impacting graduation rates

High school graduation has a significant impact on future health outcomes. Difficulty completing high school is linked to limited employment prospects, low wages and living below the Federal Poverty Line.1 A student’s ability to graduate is in turn impacted by their home and community environments. Students from low-income families often have less access to resources. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students from high-income families graduated from high school at a rate 11% higher than students from low-income families in 2019.2 Studies further show that students from families with greater stability (regarding familial loss, volatility, permanent residence and employment) are more likely to enroll in college.3

Interaction with the justice system can additionally impact high school completion. Specific to Florida, two-thirds of justice-involved girls compared to one-third of boys were arrested for non-felony offenses.4 Researchers interviewing girls at nine different juvenile detention centers in Florida found that 78% of girls reported experience running away, 69% living without parents, 53% the loss of relatives or friends within the past year and 50% being arrested for fighting with a household member.5 60% of girls additionally reported victimization by peers or teachers.

Pace Center for Girls

Founded in 1985, Pace is one of the only multi-state, gender-responsive, trauma-informed and strength-based models for girls in the country.6 Pace’s Reach Program Services (Reach) provides girls and young women from underserved communities with education, counseling and training focused on breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect. Pace additionally provides free academic and wrap-around social services, serving more than 3,000 girls aged 11 to 17 annually.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida’s investment will support expansion of the Reach program to increase the number of unique individuals reached and the number of individuals receiving mental health services.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida’s investment builds upon a $250,000 grant in 2020 from UnitedHealthcare Foundation.7 The initial grant provided 100 girls with a full year of access to mental and behavioral health services. As highlighted through support for the Reach program, UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and instability for girls in Florida.

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