Pregnancy prevention program funds on hold

April 20, 2006|by TARA REILLY

Money that originally was budgeted for teen pregnancy prevention efforts spearheaded by the Washington County Health Department might better be spent someplace else, the County Commissioners said Wednesday during a budget workshop.

The commissioners decided to pull $134,097 from the Health Department's budget and set it aside until they determine if it should go to other teen pregnancy prevention programs in the county.

The Budget and Finance Department tentatively earmarked the money for the Health Department in the county's proposed $178.1 million operating budget.

Health Officer William Christoffel asked the commissioners for the money last month.

The commissioners agreed by consensus Wednesday to put the money on hold after Vice President William J. Wivell said he didn't think it should go to the Health Department.


"I just think there are a bunch of good programs out there that need to be looked at," Wivell said after the meeting.

Wivell said he received three or four phone calls from organizations that would be interested in linking with the county to offer teen pregnancy prevention programs.

One of those groups was the Parent-Child Center, which offers a program in which girls who gave birth as teens speak with other teens about being young parents and that "it isn't all what it's cracked up to be," he said.

The Parent-Child Center told him it could offer the program for less than $134,000, Wivell said.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said during the meeting he originally thought the money should be placed on hold, but remain in the Health Department's budget until health officials and the Board of Education discuss the best way to use it.

Snook later agreed with Wivell to take the money out of the department's budget and keep it in reserve.

Commissioner John C. Munson said after the meeting he favored setting the money aside and that maybe the commissioners shouldn't release it at all.

"I think more parent involvement with teens is the answer," Munson said.

Christoffel said the money would be used to pay for a full-time nurse practitioner at Elgin Station Community Center in Hagerstown's West End, for a teen pregnancy awareness media campaign that also targets parents and for medical supplies.

Christoffel said by phone Wednesday that he had no comment on the commissioners' action.

Christoffel has said that in 2004 - the last year for which data is available - there were 206 females between the ages of 15 and 19 who had babies, an increase from 185 births in 2003.

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