Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

UpCounty Family Center looks for new provider after Catholic Charities pulls plug

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UpCounty Family Center, an Emmitsburg nonprofit serving families in need, is looking for a new organization to provide human resources and accounting services on a not-for-profit basis.

The center’s current services provider, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, informed UpCounty that it would soon withdraw its support.

UpCounty doesn’t receive any direct funding from Catholic Charities, according to director Liza Frye. The majority of UpCounty’s financial support comes from Friends of the Family, a state nonprofit. United Way and Frederick County also contribute to the center’s operating budget, Frye said.

The 20-year-old family center provides teen parenting help, GED and Flexible High School classes and daycare for young parents. UpCounty also holds social activities and conducts job training at its West Lincoln Avenue location.

Frye said last week that representatives from the center will be speaking at a Frederick Board of County Commissioners meeting in February to address the loss of Catholic Charities’ support.

‘‘We’re really just starting to explore that process,” Frye said. ‘‘Resources are always a challenge to find.”

Frye is scheduled to give a presentation about UpCounty’s needs to commissioners at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, in Winchester Hall.

Catholic Charities will continue to serve UpCounty as the center looks for a new partner, Frye said.

‘‘The center needs some organization to pick that up,” John Ford, of Thurmont. Ford volunteers twice a week to transport young parents to GED and flexible high school classes, he said Monday. ‘‘The value of those services is pretty substantial.”

UpCounty has six full-time and four part-time staffers, in addition to volunteers.

Ford said that the center is an essential path for young parents to learn parenting skills and finish their high school education. Demand for the center’s services runs high in northern Frederick County, he said.

‘‘They don’t have parenting experience and that kind of thing,” Ford said. ‘‘It’s helping them get their feet on the ground.”

Messages left for a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities were not returned by The Gazette’s press time.