Center for teens gets Gary's support

November 24, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Making good on a campaign promise, County Executive-elect John G. Gary said he will resurrect the Careers Center, a vocational program for troubled teen-agers that was a victim of the budget ax.

Under Mr. Gary's proposal, the as yet unnamed program would offer educational and vocational training to about 40 youths who are under the supervision of the juvenile justice system, as was done at the old Careers Center. It would even be housed in the same place, the Winterode Building in Crownsville. Mr. Gary hopes to have the proposal completed by next fall.

But there would be two important differences. First, the state would pick up half of the operating cost. "I'm going to need their help to fund it," Mr. Gary said at a news conference yesterday.

Though state funding means enrollment cannot be limited to Anne Arundel County youths, Mr. Gary said he would include a provision in any contract with the state Department of Juvenile Services specifying that the program be used primarily for Anne Arundel youth.

Secondly, just as he is seeking a private corporation to operate the Glen Burnie detention center, Mr. Gary said he will privatize the juvenile vocational education program.

Mr. Gary said he was impressed by the work Youth Services International Inc. has done at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. school in Baltimore County, and that Youth Services International would be a company he'd like to have operate the center.

"They'd be high on my agenda, but I'd have to put it out for competitive bid," he said. He added that the lowest bid would not necessarily get the contract. Rather, it would go to the "best and final" bid, which offered the best services at the best price.

Youth Services International, the Owings Mills-based operator of schools for troubled youths, contributed $1,150 to Mr. Gary's campaign for county executive. W. James Hindman, the Jiffy Lube founder and YSI chief executive officer, contributed another $1,600.

Former County Executive Robert A. Pascal started the Careers Center in 1978. It was closed in June 1993 after County Executive Robert R. Neall eliminated the center's $330,660 appropriation from the budget.

Mr. Neall questioned the program's effectiveness, citing figures from a University of Maryland study that showed youths referred to the center at age 13 or 14 were re-arrested 70 percent of the time while still juveniles. He also maintained that such juvenile services were the function of the state.

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