- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Services for at-risk youth in three Vermont communities - Barre, Newport and Rutland - are grappling with deep budget cuts that could force some of the centers to close.

Federal funding has been cut from a grant program called Youth in Transition. The Vermont Department of Mental Health decided to cut funds for three programs around the state while keeping full support for nine others that officials say showed the best results for meeting the grant’s goals of increasing youth involvement, connecting them with social service partners and delivering behavioral health in innovative ways, Vermont Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/1f0gLGZ).

“Some areas really excelled in getting youth involvement and leadership and advocacy, and those areas we did not want to cut because we were afraid we would lose all that momentum,” said the department’s Charlie Bliss.

The Teen Center in Newport could close because it will lose roughly $52,000 this year - or three-fourths of its budget. The director of Rutland’s center said the facility will be forced to close. And in Barre, youth outreach services will be cut back.

Bliss acknowledged that Barre, Newport and Rutland are grappling with drug addiction and other problems that put youth at risk. He said it was a difficult decision to cut them off Youth In Transition money next year, and he hopes they find other sources of funding.

The teen center in Newport has launched an online fundraising campaign. If that doesn’t work, the entire community could suffer, said Lindsey Olmstead, youth development coordinator for Northeast Kingdom Community Action.

“Unfortunately, I think that what happens, especially in towns where there is nothing else going on, I think a lot of youth find themselves doing things and making choices that are not positive. And I think that this community is really going to feel that,” she said.


Information from: WVPS-FM, https://www.vpr.net


Information from: WVPS-FM, https://www.vpr.net

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