Studies cite need for youth programs After-school activity, parent classes among plans for Taneytown

March 27, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Taneytown needs more after-school activities, parent education classes and programs to discourage drug use among youths, according to two new studies of at-risk families and children in the county's poorest region.

The Department of Citizen Services plans to use the studies to apply for $150,000 in state money to develop some of the needed programs in the northwest Carroll town.

"Usually, plans like this are put on a shelf, but not in this case," Jolene Sullivan, director of citizen services, told the County Commissioners yesterday.

"I think we're going to be able to implement some nice programs for Taneytown."

Proposed projects include a family support center, scholarships for children who can't afford to participate in existing recreational programs and other family oriented activities.

With a population of nearly 5,000, Taneytown is Carroll's second most populous municipality. But the town is home to a disproportionate number of county residents on food stamps and other forms of public assistance. More than 40 percent of Taneytown's residents live at or below the poverty line. The median income is $31,900, compared with $43,500 for the county as a whole.

The two studies -- one focusing on juvenile delinquency and the other on families and children -- were financed with a $23,000 grant from the state Department of Human Resources. The money is part of a federal program dedicated to the preser- vation of families.

Initially, county officials planned a study to develop a countywide plan for youth and family services, but federal regulations required a more specific focus.

"We thought probably the best place to look was Taneytown," Ms. Sullivan said. "We wanted to dovetail the project with the Taneytown Community Center project.

County health and human services officials plan to open the Taneytown Community Center in a vacant bank building on Taneytown's Main Street, where health and other public services will be available to the town's low-income residents.

The conclusions of the two studies, together known as the Taneytown Assessment and Planning Project, were based on information collected late last year from focus groups, telephone surveys and in-depth interviews with 29 individuals representing local human service providers, Taneytown officials, local churches and residents.

Interview subjects were asked about strengths and weaknesses in the town, the quality of services there and what could be done to improve the lives of families and children.

Taneytown's rural atmosphere and its churches, schools and recreation councils were described as town strengths.

And recent economic developments in the town also were seen as encouraging. A planned nursing home is expected to create 300 jobs and a prime tract of land has been rezoned for industrial use.

Among the problems cited in the report were poverty and a shortage of jobs, a lack of public transportation to health and public assistance programs in Westminster and a large number of single-parent families.

"The need for more individual responsibility was most often cited as the thing that would improve life for children and families in Taneytown," the report said.

The study addressing juvenile delinquency found that 22 percent of county children referred to the Youth Services Bureau between April and December of last year were from Taneytown.

And the most serious problem facing Taneytown youths is the use of alcohol, nicotine and marijuana, the study found.

Taneytown's mayor, W. Robert Flickinger, said yesterday that he supported the proposals outlined in the reports but questioned residents' willingness to participate.

"Last year we hired a part-time recreational director and we'd have activities in the park and arts and crafts, but only a handful of kids came down," Mr. Flickinger said. "How do you get the kids out?"

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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