Adelphoi plans program launch

Endeavor will provide jobs, scholarships

A greater number of at risk teens soon will be housed in Cambria County, as Adelphoi Village Inc. moves to launch a new program at the former county juvenile detention center.

That’s while officials also work to provide recent college graduates with scholarship funds and employment opportunities at facilities operated by Latrobe-based Adelphoi.

“Through this endeavor, we are not only providing employment, but we are transforming the lives of over 50 children and their families each year,” Adelphoi CEO Nancy Kukovich said in a statement.

The detention center was closed by the county in 2016, after a unanimous decision by commissioners earlier that year. The closure was the result of a plan to address the county’s then-$8.6 million deficit.

Officials estimated that $900,000 a year could be saved by cutting detention center costs.

The detention center had an annual operating budget of $1.7 million — half of which was covered by the county — and costs were expected to increase by about

10 percent each year, officials said.

The number of local teens housed at the Ebensburg center had also decreased.

Last year, commissioners voted to approve a lease agreement with Adelphoi, allowing them to house teens with behavior problems at the then-vacant Cambria detention center.

At that time, Adelphoi leaders also agreed to make $800,000 worth of improvements to the existing building at 550 Manor Drive.

“We worked to find a partner to use the space,

with vital services,” Commissioner William “B.J.” Smith said.

But in April, Cambria County Chief Clerk Mike Gelles announced that Adelphoi had actually shelled out about $1.6 million to upgrade the facility, which is still owned by the county.

“It’s always a positive sign when a large nonprofit like Adelphoi wants to make a commitment to our county,” Commissioner Mark Wissinger said in a statement. “Adelphoi has made a large investment to upgrade the building at no cost to taxpayers.”

On Tuesday, Adelphoi spokeswoman Karyn Pratt said the company began housing teens in Cambria County in March, with an official opening in May.

The center is available to house male teens, who have been adjudicated through the juvenile court system, from 62 Pennsylvania counties, Pratt said.

Currently, a 15-bed “secure” treatment program is in place to house chronic offenders, who are considered at risk of running away. Pratt described the program as Aldephoi’s most strict or restrictive.

“We are 100 percent full at that facility,” she said.

A less restrictive “enhanced supervision” program, with 14 beds, is expected to open Oct. 8, Pratt said.

“It’s essentially ready to go,” she said, explaining the organization is simply waiting to get staff in place.

The Cambria County facility is intended to employ 29 workers, and about 21 have already been hired, Pratt said. Those employees fit into three categories — child care workers, counselors and caseworkers, she said.

“We’d like to hire as many local community members as we could,” Pratt said.

Adelphoi leaders also are taking steps to ensure staffing for years to come by partnering with Saint Francis University.

Through a “Work Scholarship Program,” Adelphoi has made funding available to graduate students at the university.

Qualifying students who enroll in the program will receive $5,000 upon graduation and another $5,000 if they work under the Adelphoi umbrella for two years after graduating, Pratt said.

“We certainly hope to educate students in this field,” she said. “I think it’s a mutually beneficial partnership.”

A Saint Francis spokeswoman said she could not immediately provide information about the program.

Pratt said the program is available to eight students at a time.

President Commissioner Tom Chernisky applauded the partnership in a statement.

“We looked for a community-based partner to not only bring services to the youth and their families, but jobs, too,” he said. “This partnership represents how best government and nonprofits can work together to not only serve the needs of the community but to create opportunities.”

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.