JYS in talks to fix problems

Youth agency looks to state, city for help with financial troubles

Posted: Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Juneau Youth Services is in discussions with the state and the city about preserving programs amid projected financial shortfalls.

Funding difficulties result from a combination of factors, including changes in state and city funding, JYS Executive Director Chuck Bennett said. The exact amount of the organization's financial shortfall is under discussion. JYS has a budget of about $6 million, he said.

"I'm very hopeful at this point in time that things can be worked out," he said.

JYS offers residential care, emergency services, mental health treatment and assessment, chemical dependency programs and education to kids age 3 to 19.

The fiscal year for JYS ends June 30. The nonprofit organization plans to have negotiations with the state and the city wrapped up by then, Bennett said. JYS, the state and the city will sponsor a public forum within the next couple of weeks to answer questions and provide information, he added.

"There may be things we've overlooked," he said.

State Division of Family and Youth Services Director Theresa Tanoury said the funding situation is complicated. Reduced funding for residential care, for example, might be made up by clinical billings, she said.

"We're committed to working with Juneau Youth Services in trying to figure this out," she said.

Walter Majoros, director of the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, said the state and JYS are analyzing services program by program. He said the state will work with JYS on a transition plan so services are not dropped. Specifically, he would like services at the Family Mental Health Clinic and Alaska Youth Initiative to continue, but program changes may occur.

"We're very concerned about the transition and nobody losing services as the result of a transition," he said.

Deputy City Manager Donna Pierce said the city is "trying to get a handle on what the problem is and what the needs are, then figure out what the solution is."

Meanwhile, parents such as Kathrine Ryan worry about the future of JYS programs.

"There's very little trust right now between parents of children who are receiving services and JYS because we're receiving conflicting information," she said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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