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Gouverneur Activity and Learning Center could close in December

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GOUVERNEUR — More than 100 families may lose support services if the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council cannot find another funding stream to keep open its Gouverneur Activity and Learning Center, 68 W. Main St.

Council Executive Director Tina M. Cobb said the center has been funded throughout the past nine years mainly through grant awards from the state Office of Children and Family Services. Those funds dried up in August. Now, the activity and learning center is scraping by with donations, free rent for a few months, minimal fundraising dollars and hope that other funding sources may be found.

“We’ve been looking at statewide grants, local foundations and small fundraising campaigns,” Mrs. Cobb said. “If we can find a funding stream to continue, we will.”

She said that, although obtaining $100,000 per year would enable to agency to offer a wider variety of services, the center could get by on $60,000 annually. That would cover the cost of rent, utilities, staffing and program materials.

Throughout the program’s 2012-13 fiscal year, 128 families received services.

Mrs. Cobb said center offerings include nutrition and parenting classes, supervised visitation services, free and instructional play time, family activities, arts and crafts and referrals to various community agencies.

While the center’s main focus is for children from birth to age 5, a majority of clients are ages 19 to 25, Mrs. Cobb said. The center works with family members of all ages.

The activity and learning center is a drop-in center, which means people may stop in anytime during business hours. The center was open for nearly 12 hours daily when it was fully funded, but now operates from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

If the center shuts down for good in December, Mrs. Cobb said, there again will be a gap in services the council may try to close.

“We had been providing adolescent pregnancy prevention in the Gouverneur area for 15 years prior to that,” Mrs. Cobb said. “What we wanted to do was provide some kind of continuity. There weren’t a lot of family-based programs in the Gouverneur area.”

She said she also worries for many clients who are economically disadvantaged, and where they would seek services they receive at the center. About two-thirds of the clients make less than $15,000 annually, she said.

For more information on the center, call 287-1315.

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