Mended Reeds forced to cut back

Published 11:54 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

The economic downturn is taking its toll on one of Lawrence County’s social service organizations and, in turn, area youth in crisis.

Mended Reeds Director David Lambert announced in a prepared statement Friday he is discussing the sale of his facility on State Route 93 in Elizabeth Township and will reduce his staff in the coming months to combat dwindling resources. Mended Reeds provides residential care services for at-risk children who are placed there by juvenile courts and human services agencies.

“All counties are cutting back significantly on requested residential services for children,” Lambert said in the statement. “Mended Reeds typically has minor employee lay-offs in the summer months because the number of placements decreases during summer months. This year, Mended Reeds is anticipating more significant layoffs as counties continue to cut back.”’

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This announcement comes one day after county officials announced their intent to purchase the Mended Reeds site in Elizabeth Township for use by the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home.

Sixty-five people are employed at the two Mended Reeds facilities. The statement did not say how many people would be laid off and Lambert was unavailable for additional comment.

Lambert said, in the future, Mended Reeds will focus on Lawrence County youths and perhaps some from neighboring counties.

It will not take in children from “a greater distance away” who tend to have excessively delinquent behavioral issues. Any of these children remaining on or after May 31 will be sent back to their home county for re-placement.

Right now, Mended Reeds has 27 children. The statement did not say how many children the organization will care for at one time in the future.

“To continue operating the campus in this economic recession without layoffs would require bringing in children from larger metropolitan areas,” Lambert said in his statement. “That is not our intent.”

Some of the existing staff will be relocated to the organization’s Ironton facility on Vernon Street.