Agency Looks At Possible Facility Plan

A local taxpayer-funded agency that helps children recently conducted a survey to determine whether it should seek a facility for itself and some of the organizations that it provides funding to.

The Franklin County Children and Families Community Resource Board is looking into either building a facility or purchasing an existing one.

The facility could be occupied by some of the 15 agencies that the resource board provides funding to. The resource board itself could also have a small space in the facility for administrative purposes. The resource board only has one employee, executive director Annie Schulte, and she works out of home presently.

Agencies that receive taxpayer funding from the resource board were recently sent a survey to get their thoughts on the idea of a joint facility. There has been some interest, Schulte said.

The resource board provides about $2.5 million in funding annually to help agencies provide services for area children. The services address problems such as sex abuse, bullying and mental health issues.

The resource board gets its funding through a quarter-cent sales tax that voters approved in 2008 to help Franklin County youth ages 19 and under.

The facility survey, which was due back last Wednesday, sought information about the agencies’ current facilities, such as whether they are being outgrown.

Some resource board funding currently goes toward paying part of the rent costs for certain agencies, Schulte said. A building is considered a “programmatic cost” because in order to conduct counseling and other services a space is needed, Schulte noted.

A joint facility could also help deliver services more effectively to children, Schulte said. For instance, a child could receive drug and alcohol help from one agency that may refer the child to another service, such as counseling for depression. If the agencies are right down the hall from one another it can help make sure the child gets the needed help, she explained.

Moreover, when services are spread out in different areas, transportation for the families can be a problem. A joint facility would keep services centralized, Schulte pointed out.

If an existing building is acquired, it would likely have to be remodeled to meet the needs of the agencies that would occupy it, she said. It is unclear how big the building would have to be, but it would likely be located in Union because many of the services that work with the agencies, such as the juvenile center and Court Appointed Special Advocates are based there.

Also, it would have to be decided if the agencies in the building would pay rent to the resource board or if the resource board would make a funding adjustment in lieu of providing the facility space, Schulte explained.

There could also be a space in the facility designated to try new, innovative programs that are getting off the ground.

The next step is for a committee of the resource board to review the survey results and determine if there is enough need for a facility. There should be an answer by late summer or early fall whether a facility will be pursued, Schulte said, adding that the financial feasibility must be considered.