40 years of service slated to end in 2013
Youth and Family Services (YFS), a Marlborough-based organization that has provided educational and intervention services in the community for 40 years, has begun phasing out their operations.
The local service group is another victim of funding cuts and belt-tightening as the nation’s economic struggles continue. Cutbacks in Montgomery County finances and funding mandates are contributing factors. In addition, funding from the United Way ceased to the organization at least two years ago, officials said.
The organization announced the closing to their employees last week and has begun the process of notifying other area service organizations.
At a meeting of the YFS Board of Directors Tuesday night, the group made a resolution that will “initiate the formal application to close their corporate charter.” A statement issued by the directors stated that “Effective Dec. 12, 2012, no new clients shall be solicited or accepted, however YFS will continue to work with their current clients until the organization is dissolved.”
Over the past year, YFS, Upper Perkiomen Senior Citizens Center and The Open Line were involved in merger talks to work close together and streamline the services provided by their organizations. The project began as a community initiative, referred to as the Upper Perkiomen Valley Community Services Coalition, spirited by a series of meetings between board members of local not-for-profit service organizations and community stakeholders concerned about the delivery of those services. It resulted in public forums where information and suggestions continued regarding the present and future of needed community services.
Eleven months ago, officials from all three groups expressed concern about the waning level of funding from government. The effort was supported by the Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County, YMCA and other groups. But YFS may no longer be part of the coalition equation.
The YFS board is required to meet twice on the subject of dissolving the organization. They will meet again in Jan. 2013. The organization is governed by a board of directors made of 11 local community and business members. The disappointing news comes on the heels of recent Montgomery County funding elimination to The Open Line in Pennsburg.
Some of the counseling programs provided by YFS included: bullying training classes in local schools, substance abuse, mental health services, drug and alcohol prevention, diversity, anger management, families, couples, Rent-A-Teen jobs program and bullying and harassment awareness. Many of the programs were presented to area youth through the Upper Perkiomen School District.
According to Board President Kathy Clancy, “We have made a small but mighty impact on the youth of the area…some of them remarked that ‘I wouldn’t get up for school if it wasn’t for you [YFS].’”
Begun as The Sunshine Awareness House in 1972, and later known as the Upper Perkiomen Youth Services Bureau, the organization grew over the years to become Youth and Family Services. The group’s original mission was to serve as a referral point for schools, police, social services and other agencies and be a prevention center to deal with problems faced by area youths. According to the group’s website, it was an “open door youth safe house facility designed with assisting troubled youths.”
Another goal was to be recognized by the Commonwealth as a referral agency for juvenile probation. Over the years YFS has expanded to serve the community’s families and individuals as well in the Upper Perkiomen Valley, Pottsgrove, Pottstown and other nearby areas.
Recently, YFS had 11 staff members providing their services, including experienced, Master’s level counselors. Clancy stated that, “All of our counselors are Master’s degree people who work after hours in a confidential arena at convenient times…now the people will have no place in the Upper Perkiomen Valley for the services currently provided by YFS.”
YFS will be reaching out to other organizations with the hope of having some of their counselor services continued by them.
Personal and business donations also make up a part of the YFS funding, but if a dramatic upturn doesn’t occur over the next 30 days, the reality will be the disbanding of the organization.
But Clancy isn’t giving up.
“I believe in miracles,” she said.