Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall said yesterday he will consider restoring $46,000 that was cut from the county's funding of the Harundale Youth and Family Service Center, so the counseling center can expand its services and shrink its waiting list.
Mr. Neall, who was touring Glen Burnie, stopped at the center briefly to hear of its plans and speak with Adel O'Rourke, center director.
"He would be willing to meet with me privately. He is very interested in talking about it," Ms. O'Rourke said after her meeting with the county executive.
"We're going to look at it, that's all I can say," Mr. Neall said.
The 25-year-old program, located in the Harundale Mall, maintains a constant waiting list of about 40 families. The cut in funding, Ms. O'Rourke said, translates into two counseling jobs. Social worker Stephen Gollegly said two jobs would make a large dent in the waiting list, because each counselor carries as many as 18 cases.
The youth center had its anticipated $125,000 county appropriation cut to $78,310 this fiscal year -- just as it was planning to expand. The private sector already had offered the $250,000 it would take to turn the Harundale space into offices and rooms for group therapy and private counseling.
The Rouse Co. of Columbia, which owns the shopping center, offered to double the 1,400 square feet it already gives the youth center rent-free. But someone else would have to refurbish the space.
Ms. O'Rourke said the center has promises from various groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, to carve out the rooms. Plans were drafted by architecture students at the University of Maryland.
"I feel like I was being punished for being able to raise money privately," Ms. O'Rourke said. "When you . . . can get the private sector involved to this degree, it really means something. We have a proven track record of doing a good job, or they would not have been this generous."
County Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks, D-Glen Burnie, said the center should be praised for fund raising and for its work toward keeping troubled youths out of trouble. He urged the county executive to seek a supplemental appropriation for the center.
The center counsels about 150 families a year in individual sessions, plus hundreds of children, teen-agers and young adults. Its counselors go to schools and hold programs elsewhere. Fees are charged on a sliding scale.