Six months after county budget cuts forced the Sexual Abuse Treatment Center to reduce services and staff, the agency is urging Carroll officials to restore a counseling program that served adults who sexually abused children.
It's critical to treat the offenders as well as child victims of sexual abuse because in many instances the abuser and the child continue to live in the same household, said Sandra L. Rappeport, Carroll County district director of Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland.
"Many families where there is incest are eventually reunited, and it's not safe to reunite with a sex offender who hasn't received treatment," she said.
At a meeting this week with the county's Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee, Rappeport estimated it would cost the county about $40,000 to restore counseling services for offenders.
The program was eliminated when county funding for the Sexual Abuse Treatment Center was cut in half last year to offset a deficit in Carroll's fiscal 1997 operating budget.
The $136,000 loss also forced the center to reduce its counseling services to adult survivors of child abuse and to trim its clinical and clerical staff. The center has continued to provide counseling services to child victims of sexual abuse and their nonoffending parents.
County budget officials have indicated to Rappeport that the agency could receive an increase of as much as 3 percent in its fiscal 1998 budget proposal, bringing the county's contribution to about $140,000. Other sources of funding for the center's projected $243,000 budget include a federal grant and user fees.
"It'll help us keep up with inflation and keep up with the expenses of the program, but it's not bringing back anything that we lost," she said.
Since the county budget cuts took effect in July, Rappeport said, it has been a challenging time for the agency, which last year served 309 clients, including 105 children.
"It's been a difficult transition to have to restrict our mission, but we're very busy and we're still able to get kids into treatment within two weeks of referral," she said.
In her presentation to the committee, Rappeport estimated the county's contribution to the 1998 budget for the Family and Children's Services Domestic Violence Program at $49,000. The total budget is projected at $206,314, with the largest portion of the funding -- $80,000 -- coming from the United Way of Central Maryland.
The program, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, provides shelter, counseling and legal services for county families that have experienced domestic violence.
Rappeport said the domestic violence program may set a record this year for the number of nights in shelters provided to battered women and their children. If the pace continues, clients will have spent 1,274 nights in program shelters, compared with 1,042 nights last year.
In a departure from previous years, Rappeport said that clients of the domestic violence program are using more of the services that are offered but for shorter periods. For example, a client may participate in one or two counseling sessions and use the shelter services instead of taking part in a long-term counseling program. She said both approaches are effective in reducing instances of domestic violence.
"The number of clients increases every year, but the number of individual counseling sessions is down," Rappeport said.
"The goal used to be to get everybody into long-term counseling, but now we're trying to tailor everything to be really short-term."
Pub Date: 12/26/96