Strong Support For Youth Programs

Community Outcry Helped Avert 'Devastating' Cuts To Services

January 02, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

When the state Department of Juvenile Services decided to cut funding to Maryland's 21 Youth Service Bureaus, officials at the Carroll center for troubled adolescents found out just how important county residents think their program is.

And now that Gov. William Donald Schaefer says he can reduce the state budget deficit by cutting in other areas, officials at the Carroll center are marveling at the county support they received.

"The support we got within the community was very good," said George W. Giese, director of the Carroll Youth Services Bureau. "People were calling us from other agencies asking what they could do to help. People in the schools were organizing letter-writing campaigns. Itwas really something."

That kind of support for the program was shown throughout the state, Giese said.

"I was talking to one stateofficial who said he still had 122 phone calls to return, and he hadalready returned 170," Giese said. "There was a flood of letters andphones calls from around the state to draw the governor's attention to that line item, and it worked."

The governor's proposal to cut funding to the youth centers starting Feb. 1 would have saved about $1 million for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, and about $2.5 million in the following budget year.

But Schaefer decided to find other ways to reduce the $423 million budget after he toured a youth center in northern Anne Arundel County last Wednesday.

Schaefer said one reason he decided to save the centers is that they provide an inexpensive way to help young people solve their problems.

Most of the bureaus receive 75 percent of their operating funds from the state and 25 percent from counties or municipalities.

But in Carroll, the majority of the funding comes from the county, Giese said.

"The county has chosen to overmatch the state funds because the commissioners felt it was important to have the program in elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools," Giese said.

For this fiscal year, the county contributed $255,000 to the program, while the state provided $140,000. An additional $10,000 is given to theprogram every year by the county drug and alcohol program, Junction Inc.

Even though the majority of the Carroll program's funding comes from the county, Giese said the loss of $140,000 would have been devastating.

He said the loss of the money would have meant layoffsfor three counselors, the end of service for nine county schools, and a halt in therapy for 63 county families.

Like the Youth Services Bureau in Dorchester County, Carroll's center works in county schools. The counselors are assigned to three county schools each, where they are available for individual student counseling, drug and alcoholabuse prevention, and referrals for family counseling.

While muchof their work is done in the schools, family counseling is given at the center's office in Westminster.

Giese said the main purpose ofYouth Services Bureaus is to intervene when a child has committed a first offense or appears to be headed for trouble.

About one-quarter of the cases the Youth Services Bureau receives come from the Carroll Department of Juvenile Services.

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