MOUNT VERNON — Over the past five years, the local economic impact of The Village Network has increased. More important, so has the number of youths served.
The Village Network manages the Children's Resource Center on Coshocton Road. The CRC provides residential treatment and foster care services for youths age 12 and above who face serious psychological and behavioral issues. The county owns the CRC building; Knox County Job & Family Services provides oversight to the programs.
From 2015 to 2020, The Village Network's local tax share increased from $18,739 to $24,783. The number of staff grew from 24 to 28 with annual wages topping $1.29 million. Four positions remain vacant.
Through its foster care program, The Village Network contributes $991,246 to support local foster care families. Economic benefits to local contractors and vendors total $832,934.
Combining wages, foster care, and local business, The Village Network spends more than $3.1 million annually in the county.
“The most important thing is the Knox County children we serve,” Dave Paxton, chief clinical officer, told the county commissioners on Thursday. “We serve an average of 90 youth a day, and we take care of 223.”
The 223 includes youths in the residential, foster, and outpatient programs. That number is up from 124 in 2015. The average number of out-of-county youths served annually has remained consistent at 89. School tax dollars follow the out-of-county youths to Knox County.
Paxton said that placement at the CRC enables youths to stay in town, in the same school, and close to their case workers and support systems. When the CRC opened in 2000, the daily rate was based on actual cost.
“Right now, it's $212 a day to place them in the CRC,” said Paxton. “That's relatively low in our industry. Typically, it's about $300 a day to place a child in a residential program.”
The CRC is a 20-bed facility, two of which are reserved for Knox County youth.
“The county will never be turned away. If Knox County has the need to fill it to capacity, we can do that,” said Richard Graziano, president and CEO of The Village Network.
Matthew Kurtz, director of KCJFS, said that Knox County does place youth in facilities other than the CRC, but outside placement is “due more to specifics of the case, not availability.” For example, the CRC doesn't treat youths with a drug addiction, so those youths will be placed elsewhere.
To improve and expand services, construction is underway on the Family & Children's Resource Center, located adjacent to the CRC. Funding is through a $2.5 million bond from the county.
Initial plans in 2017 called for a 15,000-square-foot, two-story facility. The county had to redesign and rebid the project several times because the bids exceeded $2.5 million.
The current building is a 7,600-square-foot, one-story building that will connect to the CRC via a breezeway. The cost is $1.9 million.
Once complete, the family center will be a day-use facility offering additional clinical space for individual and group therapy, training space, family therapy rooms, and two classrooms managed and staffed by the Knox County Educational Service Center.