Youth Services plans to expand


Lynn Davis, director of the Carroll County Youth Services Bureau, dreams of a new facility for her agency, one that is more than twice the size of the cramped commercial space she uses in the JCK Center on 140 Village Road in Westminster.

She envisions a new 20,000-square-foot building at Route 32 and Kate Wagner Road where her staff of 43 could congregate in one room for meetings.

The Carroll County commissioners have offered to lease vacant land - at no cost to the bureau - for that facility. A 30-year lease agreement is expected to be signed by next month, said Ralph Green, director of the county's department of general services.

Designs for a new facility - partially funded by a grant from the state Department of Juvenile Services - are half-completed, Davis said. The department could also award the agency a construction grant in July.

"We're expecting they will," said Davis. "Our mission to keep kids out of trouble is so closely connected to Juvenile Services. But we still just have to find all this money."

She said her agency is launching an aggressive capital campaign. The earliest that the bureau could break ground for the facility is March 2007, with a completion date a year later, Davis said.

"We could serve much more of the community," she said.

In six suites at the JCK Center, which the bureau leases for $100,000 annually, Davis' staff had to turn away more than 40 percent of the families that contacted youth services last year, she said.

The agency still managed to bring in 500 new cases last year, but almost half of those are located in the Westminster area.

"It's pretty tight," Davis said. "With four to five staff in one room, some programs operate like a bull pen. To sit in a room with four to five people talking on the phone about confidential issues just doesn't work."

The new youth services building would be more centrally located, next to the Gateway School, Carroll County's alternative school for middle and high school students, and near Westminster High School, Davis said.

One youth services counselor works with students in the school system's Community Learning and Suspension Service program, which is run in a facility on the Gateway School's campus.

Because of space constraints, all new programs have to be housed outside the JCK Center at locations that include the Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Education Center and at the Department of Juvenile Services.

In the new space, Davis would also expand the bureau's internship program, which recruits graduates from the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University and McDaniel College.

"We could become a real teaching center for the region," Davis said.

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