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Commission hears from nonprofits
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County commission gave local nonprofits it currently funds, as well as some it doesn't, the chance to present the basics of their operations at a recent work session.

Faced with potential budget cuts, commissioners are revisiting county funding for local nonprofits to find out who does what and how much they need to do it.

They may revisit the issue in a work session Tuesday to see what can be tweaked based on the findings.

The county spent $471,000 this year on the Department of Family and Children Services, Jessie's House and the Child Advocacy Center.

Commissioners heard from those three organizations on Dec. 9, as well as from Court Appointed Special Advocate, Bald Ridge Lodge and Family Haven, which each came seeking financial help for 2009.

Representatives discussed their 2008 budgets with the commission and contemplated how they might compare with 2009 projections.

Juvenile Court Judge Russell Jackson was on hand to answer any questions about the services the organizations provide for young people.

Jessie's House

Jason Dudley, who is the president of the board for Jessie's House, came to field questions.
Jessie's House has been open since 1999. It serves girls ages 7 to 17 who are in need of emergency placement. It is the only facility in Forsyth for young girls.
The county gives Jessie's House $86,000 per year. The facility keeps 12 girls at a time and provides tutoring, counseling and mentoring. Forsyth County contributes 20 percent of the organization's revenues.

Representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, said the agency has never received money from the county.
The 15-year-old Forsyth County program has a staff of three with 60 active volunteers.
The organization works with children and parents in their homes instead of those in foster care. It monitors court orders and works to ensure children's needs are met.
CASA asked commissioners for $20,000 in financial assistance.

Child Advocacy Center
Child Advocacy Center Director Michelle Edwards fielded questions from the board, explaining that the group is "involved in the Superior Court system with the prosecution of child abuse cases."
The center advocates for victims and their families, as well as offering bilingual services and crisis counseling.
The organization has one full-time and four part-time positions. The county has given the center $85,000 per year since its opening in 2000.

Bald Ridge Lodge
Lodge chairman Dennis Gravitt thanked commissioners for helping fund the facility, which opened last summer. The organization houses boys ages 12-17.
Gravitt said a contract with DFACS awaits approval. In order to obtain the contract, though, the lodge must have six months operating expenses in the bank.
Commissioners weighed whether to give the lodge the $280,000 needed for the contract. A Department of Juvenile Justice judge could then direct that boys be sent to the lodge instead of sending them a detention center in another county.

Local director John Wilson talked about the scope of the state Department of Family and Children Services, known as DFACS, which he said is operating at a reduced budget of 6 percent.
Wilson said upcoming cuts could reduce staff by two. In the past, the county commission has approved $300,000 per year, but Wilson said officials sought only $130,000 for 2009.
"DFACS cannot function without the help of the other organizations you've heard from today," Wilson said.

Family Haven
The emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence had served 972 victims as of 2007.
A representative said the county's financial help is needed because of the changing economy. The organization, which has not previously received county funds, is asking for $20,000.
The organization was incorporated in 1989 to provide temporary shelter, individual crisis support and referral services for victims of violence.