The Norman Transcript


April 27, 2013

Crossroads supporters protest county budget decision that could pull plug on emergency youth shelter



Crossroads Youth and Family Services began as Cleveland County Juvenile Shelter in 1969 and is believed to be the first county youth shelter in the state.

In 1972, services were expanded to include probation, parole and school-based counseling. This accompanied a name change to Cleveland County Youth Bureau.

As the decades passed and laws changed, the youth shelter, its governing organization and the services offered by the agency evolved.

In 2002, the Cleveland County Youth & Family Center ceased to operate as a branch of county government, and its advisory board transformed the agency into a non-profit, 501(c) (3) agency named Crossroads Youth and Family Services Inc.

Currently, Crossroads sponsors 27 locations of Head Start and Early Head Start in Cleveland, Comanche, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.

Winters said Head Start and Early Head Start funds must be kept strictly separated from any funding of other services. Those programs make up the bulk of federal dollars received by Crossroads.

“These federal dollars are strictly regulated,” said Winters. “We have to keep our administration costs below 15 percent for Head Start and Early Head Start. We keep ours well below that.”

The Emergency Youth Shelter, which has been the beneficiary of county money, is located in the southwest corner of the county-owned Alan J. Couch Center at 1650 W. Tecumseh Road. The shelter provides short-term and emergency beds for up to 12 children. The shelter does not receive any federal dollars.

The Cleveland County Budget Board, which includes all of the elected county officials, agreed this week to eliminate Crossroads as a line item budget expense.

Supporters of Crossroads are upset and organized the protest rally at the courthouse. But County officials say they have no beef with the organization. The budget elimination is a reflection of across the board belt-tightening.

“Not one other youth shelter in the state receives county funding,” County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said.

Joy Hampton




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