Mid-Coast Family Services loses funding for youth prevention services

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Aug. 6, 2013 at 3:06 a.m.
Updated Aug. 7, 2013 at 3:07 a.m.

The signature red ribbons that have become synonymous with drug-free prevention may slowly disappear in the Crossroads after a state funding cut.

Mid-Coast Family Services' youth prevention program was denied its entire request of $1.5 million in funding July 31, but the agency has appealed, saying drug prevention in the Crossroads is of the utmost importance, said CEO Ginny Stafford.

The program, which serves 50 schools in preventing drug, alcohol and tobacco use, also has the backing of state Rep. Geanie Morrison, Stafford said.

The program most likely will not receive the originally requested amount, Stafford said, but the understanding is that some funds will be received because of the appeal. The question, though, is how much?

The Texas Department of State Health Services' Behavioral Health Prevention Services had nearly $39 million to allocate, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website. For 15 years, Mid-Coast has received the needed funding for its program and 20 staffers.

Scrolling through the list and seeing the Crossroads' program was not awarded anything was unfathomable, Stafford said.

"We were surprised and shocked and every other emotion you can imagine," Stafford said.

Stafford said Mid-Coast was given until Aug. 31 to end services, and though Morrison's office is doing what it can to get funds, Stafford says she expects cuts in staffing and outreach.

No other programs in Mid-Coast were affected.

"It's so hard to lose funding," she said. "But we're in it for the fight."

The program had always met performance measures and had good program and fiscal audits, so Stafford is unsure why it was denied continuing funding. Stafford's understanding is that it was a change on a federal level.

Justin Unruh, Morrison's chief of staff, said he and Morrison met with DSHS Commissioner David Lakey immediately after Mid-Coast reached out.

The Crossroads' growth through the Eagle Ford Shale, Caterpillar and the influx of families coming into the area were big talking points, Unruh said.

"It's a huge deal," Unruh said about the importance of Mid-Coast's youth services. "I'm optimistic after the meeting we had. It was a positive meeting."

This support does not stop with Morrison or Sen. Glenn Hegar, Stafford said. She has also heard back from many in the community willing to do what they can to help keep the services.

Stafford said she's doing just the same.

"It's too important not to fight for," she said.



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