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Chehalem Youth & Family Services cites loss of youth residence programs, contract with county

The Chehalem Counseling Center quietly closed its doors last month and directed its patients elsewhere after Yamhill County pulled the bulk of the center's work and funding.

While established by Chehalem Youth & Family Services for children, the center had primarily come to serve patients on the state healthcare plan through contracts doled out by the county — which has reportedly decided to pull those contracts within the county, according to CYFS Chief Administrative Officer Ruth Stokesbary. GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The Chehalem Counseling Center, a subsidiary of Chehalem Youth and Family Services, closed its doors in July after losing contracts to serve patients on the state's health care plan.

"(Yamhill County) decided to put all of the capacity back in their shop and so that left us with not enough to run the program, and so the board decided to close the clinic," she said.

The counseling center — also an internship training site — closed its doors for good sometime around July 15, Stokesbary said.

Jason Henness, interim program manager with Family and Youth Programs under the county's Health and Human Services department, confirmed by email that the contract with the Chehalem Counseling Center ended July 15 after having been in place since July 1, 2012.

He said the contract was for mental health services for those who get publicly-funded insurance through Yamhill Community Care Organization, which serves Oregon Health Plan members in Yamhill County and pockets of nearby counties.

The center had moved to 504 Villa Road about a year ago from its previous downtown location at 501 E. First St.

That occurred as the unrelated CYFS dispute with the Oregon Department of Human Services was winding down, which arose after DHS had closed several CYFS youth homes and revoked the local organization's license. That ended in October with a settlement in which CYFS withdrew its appeal and agreed to not seek a license to reopen the homes for two years, though CYFS did not agree with DHS' findings.

Stokesbary explained that CYFS began in about 1970 by George Fox University professors as a social services organization. Since then, the organization has evolved to meet various needs through various programs, especially for traumatized children as the organization had its roots with a youth residential home.

Characterizing the CYFS residential programs as one of many "casualties" of the tight financial times wrought by the recent recession, she said losing that base played a large role in the center closing, on top of the many state and federal changes to mental health care in the recent past.

"Our mental health counseling center was established in great part to meet the needs of our residential children and then expanded with the county need for OHP capacity," she said. "When we no longer needed to serve the mental health needs of our residential children it became increasingly difficult for our counseling center to make ends meet."

Stokesbary did not give a figure for how much money the contract with the county was worth, but she said it represented the bulk of the center's work and funding toward the end.

Henness said about $280,000 was paid for the contract during the last fiscal year that ended June 30 and serving about 60 people under Yamhill Community Care Organization in any given month.

"The decision was made due to low utilization of services by individuals insured by Yamhill CCO and challenges in meeting contract expectations," Henness stated, though he did not elaborate immediately on what the challenges were.

Stokesbary noted that CYFS will continue with its other core programs. Those include teaching youth vocational and educational skills through the Youth Opportunity Occupations Program (YOOP!), assisting non-custodial parents see their children through the Families First Supervised Parenting Program, serving developmentally disabled adults through the Integrated Services Network, operating the Lucky Finds Thrift Shop and a current effort to make one of its buildings into affordable housing.

"There are many good things for this community still going on and CYFS plans to keep going through 'open doors' that align with our mission of bringing hope and healing to children and families and looking for ways to meet human need," she said.

The center's former clients have now been referred to Yamhill County Health and Human Services offices in McMinnville and Newberg, First Step Treatment Center in Newberg and Lutheran Community Services' offices in McMinnville and Newberg.

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