Sunday, October 24, 2004

Time Out Youth Shelter Needs Your Help

timeoutUnfortunately, we received a call on Friday informing us that the Executive Director of Southwestern Community Action Council has decided to close Time Out Youth Shelter effective in only three weeks on Nov. 12, 2004.

This will result in closing one of the only two shelters for runaway and homeless youth in the entire state of West Virginia.

If we close, youth who are living in abusive or neglectful situations will be forced to choose between:
  • running away on their own and risking exploitation,
  • going into the custody of the State of West Virginia, or
  • staying in a risky abusive and neglectful situation.
This is NOT a good situation, and NO child should have to make such a choice.

The rationale for making the decision to close is reportedly based on funding concerns given the fluctuating population of the shelter from month to month and the resulting fluctuations in revenue in conjunction with fixed expenses. The agency's CFO prefers fixed budgets with a definitive revenue stream with minimal or no variation.

My recommendations were to have a conservative budget based on historical referral rates and careful tracking of expenses throughout the year with appropriate adjustments as necessary. Unfortunately, the major cuts (over $150,000) that we have made in the past year are not enough to change the mind of the CFO and in turn the Executive Director.

Based on our operating budget and our rate of referrals and shelter nights we should be meeting our budget. However, additional administrative costs apparently are being drawn from our program revenue leading at least in part to the "perceived" budget deficit.

I say "perceived" because audited financial statements for the agency's medicaid account are NOT available (the medicaid account has never been audited) AND the financial reports that are available vary WIDELY from report to report and month to month.

The bottom line is that our program expenses have decreased well beyond the reported $100,000 budget deficit and our income has increased due to increased billing (our current month is the third highest monthly number of shelter nights in the past 22 months -- and 2 of the 3 highest months for that period have been in the past 6 months.) and we have received $89,500 in entirely new grant funding during the past six months. In addition, each of our existing grants has been renewed in the past 6 months generating another $177,000/year for the next 3 years ($531,000 total).

So now loyal readers and fellow bloggers, I ask for your help on behalf of the shelter's current and future clients. Time Out Youth Shelter needs support in prayer and helping us get through this difficult transition period. We are hoping to partner with one of the other worthy organizations in our community of Huntington or elsewhere in West Virginia to provide services without interruption if at all possible.

We are exploring a variety of options for collaboration and/or independence as our own non-profit organization serving the needs of runaway and homeless youth.

Any suggestions and assistance would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you.

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