Leak in roof delays the opening of new center for teen-age parents


The source of financing for roof repairs to the old Barrel House on Distillery Drive in Westminster was incorrectly identified in an article Aug. 9. The repair cost will be covered by bonds sold by the county commissioners in 1990 for purchase and renovations.

The Carroll County Sun regrets the error.

The opening of a planned center to serve teen-age parents and their children faces a two-month delay because of a leaky roof, but the program's director says the delay won't cause major problems.

The Carroll County Family Center was scheduled to open this month as a one-stop facility in which teen parents could learn to hold, feed and play with their babies, talk out their problems and concerns, and obtain information on contraception.

Staff members also plan to refer teen-agers to agencies for financial aid or other services.

"We could run programs tomorrow [if the facility was ready], but in all reality, there are things that still need to be worked out," said center director Susan M. Mitchell.

Ms. Mitchell said she hopes to open the center in October. Meanwhile, she will begin phasing in programs, filling staff vacancies, and educating county social services workers and the public about the center.

County workers discovered the leak about two months ago when they began planning renovations for the center.

The center will be on the third floor of the Barrel House on Sherwood Drive in Westminster, one of three buildings in an old distillery complex that the county commissioners bought in 1990 for government offices.

The building has been used primarily by county social agencies.

The roof leak is minor, but it delayed renovations for the center, said Tom Bowers, chief of the county Bureau of Building Services.

He said the leak developed around rooftop air conditioning condensers.

County officials contracted for roof repairs, and the cost will be paid out of a $42,000 grant for renovations.

That money and a $135,000 grant for the first year's operating expenses came from Friends of the Family Inc., a Baltimore agency that oversees a network of 14 family-support centers in Maryland.

Ms. Mitchell said contraceptive education and help for teen-agers in dealing with their sexuality is an important part of the program.

"It's a vicious cycle," she said. "A lot of girls who have a baby will be pregnant again within a year."

The director said she also hopes to work with the county school system to start discussion groups in high schools for interested students "and hopefully, head off some of them" before they become teen parents.

However, the major focus of the center's programs will be support for teen-agers before, during and after pregnancy, Ms. Mitchell said. The center will provide child care for youngsters up to 3 years old while their parents participate in programs.

.4l The center will be open to all teen-agers, and its programs will be flexible enough to meet their needs, she said.

For example, if participants want to make toys for the holidays, the staff will arrange a toy-making program.

The center will operate under Human Services Programs Inc., a private, non-profit organization that functions as the county's community action agency. The HSP began to seek financing about four years ago after staff members saw a need for a central location in which they could work together on services to families, said Lynda Gainor, the organization's deputy director.

Carroll County's birth rate among 15- to 17-year-olds was 17.8 per 1,000 in 1989, about half the statewide rate of 34.6, the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy reports.

The 1989 statistics are the most recent available.

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