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Community center ending counseling, baby health services
Four people laid off as part of cutbacks
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Because of financial issues, the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center is ending its Counseling and Psychotherapy Services and Building Better Babies programs later this year, city officials said Monday.

Cutting the programs will result in the layoffs of one full-time employee and one part-time employee in Counseling and Psychotherapy Services and two full-time employees with Building Better Babies, City Manager Kip Padgett said.

Counseling and Psychotherapy Services' elimination Oct. 31 is the result of Hall County trimming its contribution this fiscal year to the Community Service Center by $120,000.

"When the county announced its cuts, we went back and looked at all of the programs," Padgett said.
"What we tried to do is (see) which program ... least impacted the city's contributions ... and also had the least impact on our citizens."

Gainesville is the fiscal agent for the center, which is jointly funded by the city and Hall County.

"We value our Community Service Center and its efforts in the community," Mayor Ruth Bruner said. "However, we cannot offset the $120,000 cut from the county and we had to make a very difficult decision."

Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss said, "We are dedicated to our clients and we will work diligently to find alternatives that may be accessible within the community.

"We want to provide a transition that will be as smooth as possible."

The program uses licensed therapists to provide individual, family and group counseling services.

Fees for these services are offered on a sliding scale.

Moss said counselors will work through Dec. 31 "to help clients make a transition."

The Counseling and Psychotherapy unit receives referrals from such agencies and organizations as Avita Community Partners, Hall County Health Department, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Hall County juvenile and family courts, Good News at Noon, and the Hall County and Gainesville school systems.

The Building Better Babies program, which ends Dec. 31, started with a 2010 state grant for prevention and intervention activities for children at risk of child abuse and neglect. The money came from the Governor's Office for Children and Families.

"However, with the recent budget cuts and underlying economic environment, it would be challenging to sustain the program beyond the grant period," states a city news release.

Bruner said the city re-evaluated its participation in the program, along with Northeast Georgia Medical Center, "and decided we could not financially support the program on its own."

"We were informed by (the hospital) that they would no longer participate it just because of the economy, so we took another look at it, as well," Padgett said.