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Human Services facing challenges

January 29, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Helping people before they reach a crisis is a goal that Doug Price wants to meet in Franklin County and across Pennsylvania.

"Sometimes we try to catch kids as they are falling over the dam when, instead, we need to go upriver," the Franklin County Human Services administrator said Thursday.

Price, 46, of Chambersburg, was hired to head the county's human service agencies in October 1995.

He recently was elected president of the Pennsylvania Association of County Human Service Administrators.

In that role, he will help chart the course of 48 county human service agencies across the state.

Price said about 150 Franklin County employees work in programs that assist thousands of people each year.

Those include the Area Agency on Aging, Children and Youth Services and programs dealing with mental health, mental retardation and drug and alcohol problems. The budgets for the various programs total about $16 million in a county budget of about $56 million, Price said.

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On the county level, Price said agencies are streamlining the process of getting services to individuals and families. The Family Service System Reform program would direct at-risk children, victims of domestic violence, teen parents, mothers of infants and other priority groups to public and private agencies.

Efforts are under way to create a uniform system for recording information so clients don't have to fill out redundant forms every time they seek a service, Price said.

Price hopes to open a satellite office in Waynesboro, Pa., to coordinate services in that part of the county.

Statewide, the association wants to integrate county and state information systems to provide services more efficiently, saving time and money, he said.

Despite problems of drug and alcohol abuse and violence, Price sees progress.

"On the heartening side, I see a trend toward earlier intervention and prevention services," he said.

Additionally, agencies are getting better at evaluating the effectiveness of their programs, he said.

The biggest challenge facing agencies across the state is an aging population, he said.

Price, who holds a master's degree in social work from Temple University, said state and federal funding for human service agencies is not keeping pace with the increasing need brought on by aging Baby Boomers.

"We are seeing people living longer, which is good," he said. "But they have greater needs as they get older."

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