A new building will allow the Youth Crisis Center to concentrate on its mission, rather than its finances, supporters said Wednesday.
The building, which received informal approval this week from the Casper City Council, could save the center $150,000 a year.
“You could take the savings and make sure the Youth Crisis Center is on good financial footing,” Mayor Paul Bertoglio said. “Looking toward the future, that takes one of the headaches off the table for them. Then they can turn around and focus on providing services.”
Funding issues have been a concern for the nonprofit group that runs Casper’s emergency children’s shelter and group home. The former head of the center resigned earlier this year to help the organization save money. Last year, the center sought public donations to keep from cutting services.
Housing all of the children it serves under one roof should save the center money on staffing, utility and other costs, Bertoglio said.
The new building would be constructed on city land along 12th Street, between the LifeSteps Campus and the Meals on Wheels building. It would be paid for with funding from the state, the city of Casper, Natrona County and the center itself.
The building would serve as the center’s emergency shelter and longer-term group home. Right now, the shelter and group home are operated out of separate buildings.
“We are bringing everything together, and hopefully they will be much more effective in providing those services,” Bertoglio said.
A new building will also help the center separate different populations of kids, said Executive Director Stacy Nelson. A younger child, for instance, won’t have to witness police officers bringing an older child into the facility.
“I think that is a benefit to the kids,” she said.
Under the agreement informally approved by the council, the city would pay $350,000, while the county would contribute $490,000, partially through the sale of the center’s existing McKinley Street building, which is owned by the county. The city also received $1 million from the state for the project.
The Youth Crisis Center board, meanwhile, would pay the city $190,000, at least partially through the sale of the Hemry House group home. The center would also be responsible for raising $400,000 to cover other costs.
The agreement must still be formally approved by the City Council and the Natrona County Commission. Bertoglio expects construction will begin later this year, with an opening sometime in 2012.