Teen Wellness seeks county funds to keep pace

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Tri-Cap Executive Director Joyce Fleck has asked to be included in the Dubois County commissioners’ 2014 budget to help fund the organization’s program for adolescents.

Fleck appeared before the commissioners earlier this month to request up to $10,000 from the county. That money would go toward maintaining the Teen Wellness centers in each of the four Dubois County high schools. This is the first year Fleck has requested county assistance.

The Teen Wellness program was formed in 1994 and is intended to provide free access to health services for teens. According to statistics Fleck provided to the commissioners, the centers assessed 879 students and completed 2,594 follow-up visits during the 2012-13 school year.

Adolescent services were completely funded by a federal grant for many years, but during the 2010-11 school year, the government began requiring Tri-Cap to match 30 percent of the funding.

Fleck said that with a new funding cycle approaching this fall, she wants to ensure the financial health of the program by seeking the county’s help.

“Any funding received from the county would give us a head start on our match requirement that starts over again at the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1,” she said. “Each grant is competitive, but this one is under extreme pressure right now. The more varied forms of community support we can show, the better our odds.”

She added that money from the county could free up time for Teen Wellness staff who often spend many hours organizing fundraisers throughout the year. Last year, for instance, the group hosted a basketball game with the Harlem Ambassadors at Huntingburg Memorial Gym.

Fleck is concerned that state officials will decide not to administer much funding to programs that have shown fundraising capabilities in the past.

“We’ve been successfully administering this program for 20 years. Sadly, that makes it less likely to be funded at this time because it doesn’t appear new and innovative as compared to other applications,” she said. “Dubois County is only a small pocket of the state.”

Should the Teen Wellness centers fail to reach their monetary goal, the program is in serious danger of being “scaled back drastically” which could mean one or more of the high schools losing its consistent Tri-Cap counselor staffing or a decrease in the number of days those staff members can be present to help teens. Teen Wellness coordinator Christine Vinson splits her time working Jasper and Southridge high schools while counselor Paige Mundy works at Forest Park and Northeast Dubois high schools.

Fleck said the organization is still continuing its efforts to raise funds through community events and will always do so regardless of any money received from the county. Proceeds from the “Will Read For Food” show at 6 p.m. on Aug. 4 in the Southridge High School auditorium will benefit adolescent services.

The commissioners will consider adding the Tri-Cap program to the 2014 budget, and that budget must be reviewed and approved by the county council.


Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.

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