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Organizations Work To Fund Youth Service Programs

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BOZEMAN -

The Gallatin County Commissioners have $75,000 to help teens in crisis. Two organizations are interested in using the funding to help their programs grow.

In the past, $75,000 provided by Gallatin County has been used to fund the Big Sky Youth Center Group home. Now, two different organizations are vying for the funding. The group Youth Dynamics now operate the Youth Center Group home as a therapeutic foster home for teens in crisis allowing them to stay there for an extended period of time.

The Gallatin County Youth Service, Wraparound also wants the money. This group was designed to keep kids in their homes instead of sending them to group homes. Their idea is not to only work with the kids, but also with the families.

"Families don't want someone nine to five or an answering machine. They want a cell phone. They want someone they can call instead of having to call 911," said K.C. McLaughlin, Wraparound facilitator.

Wraparound started in July 2012 and since then has been funded by the probation office. But, four weeks ago the program completely ran out of funding, which has left Wraparound facilitator, K.C. McLaughlin without pay. She said even without pay, she can't leave her families.

"They want someone to sit on that couch next to them and sit there with them while they cry," said McLaughlin.

Youth Dynamics has different plans on how they would use the money.

"We would like to see crisis respiratory home available for these kids for short term placement," said Peter Degel, Youth Dynamics Chief Executive Officer.

Degel said mixing kids who need a 24-hour safe haven with teens who need longer treatment isn't an option anymore under licensing regulations.

"A 24/7 on call situation so that law enforcement officers or whoever could call anytime day or night and get some help," said Degel.

It costs Gallatin County about $235 a day to house a juvenile in the detention center. McLaughlin said the wraparound idea is to keep families together and kids out of detention.

"You can encourage a kid and teach a kid how to change their behavior, but if the family all stays the same that kid's behavior cannot thrive to what it can be," said McLaughlin.

Gallatin County Commissioner, Steve White said he would like to see the two groups collaborate their ideas. Both groups are expected to meet with commissioners sometime this month.

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