Crosswalk suffers big funding loss - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Crosswalk suffers big funding loss

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:00 am

Crosswalk North Idaho has lost an annual $101,000 federal grant which will seriously reduce its services to area youths.

Now the number of days of operation of the drop-in center will be cut back and a 24-hour emergency shelter program for youths will be eliminated.

The paid staff had to be cut at the end of last month, so interns from Lewis-Clark State College who are studying social work will be relied upon for supervision at the center.

Marilee Roloff, president and CEO of Volunteers of America in Spokane, said they were surprised by the news. Crosswalk North Idaho is a program within VOA.

"We had no reason to believe we wouldn't receive it again," Roloff said of the grant Tuesday. "We're trying to come up with a plan to keep going over there without those funds."

Brandi Smitherman, director of Crosswalk North Idaho, had her position cut. She has been the full-time director in North Idaho for five years.

Smitherman said Tuesday the staff cuts include a full-time coordinator of the drop-in center, who also handled shelter placement, and a part-time case manager.

Smitherman will still spend 8 hours a week on an existing "Work Ready" program at Crosswalk North Idaho. The program provides employment readiness training for young people who are 16 to 21 years old. Her work in that program is paid for with money from the Paul Allen Family Foundation.

She will continue working for VOA in Spokane within a veterans' housing program.

Crosswalk North Idaho has about 17 youths per day at its center at 201 E. Harrison Ave., she said.

The center will now be open Monday, Tuesday and Friday afternoons instead of Monday through Friday, she said.

"We picked those days because there are two interns, and those were the days they were already there," Smitherman said.

The grant funds had been provided by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

"We were back up for a competitive renewal" after three years, Smitherman said. "Because of the federal government shutdown we can't even see who got it. They maybe decided somewhere down south needed it more."

Crosswalk North Idaho has received $101,000 the past three years. It has been receiving funding from the grant since 2004, although some years it had to split the money with Crosswalk in Spokane.

Crosswalk North Idaho's drop-in center, formerly Project Safe Place, provides a stable and safe environment for kids who are often homeless, impoverished or being abused or bullied. It provides them food, tutoring, access to computers and the Internet and recreational activities.

The now-eliminated 24-hour emergency shelter program in North Idaho needed money to pay owners of homes a monthly stipend to have beds and rooms ready to house youths.

The homeowners also received additional money when kids were actually sheltered.

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