RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) - A youth center in Jasper County is slated to close in just 20 days and could mean the end of more than one program.
"I felt like she was able to learn things I wasn't able to teach her myself and I feel like that's important," said Courtney Hewitt.
Hewitt has been bringing her daughter to the day care at the Jasper County Youth Center in Rensselaer for two years. Once she caught wind that the center would be closing after September 30, she knew she had to find another option for her daughter.
"I've looked into other options, the other day care center. There's only one other one and looking into personal, household baby-sitters," said Hewitt.
Circuit Court Judge John Potter presides over the juvenile court. He said the youth center oversees the county's CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates Program. While Jasper County owns the building, Terre Haute-based Gibault has operated the center since 2006. But about 90 days ago, Potter said the county was notified that Gibault was not going to renew the lease and would cease operations.
"I know there's been changes in the child welfare system and that's how Gibault gets paid, so I understand they may have some financial problems or issues and want to refocus on their core campus in Terre Haute," said Potter.
Potter said he and county commissioners have been trying to get another group to take over the center. But with little time left, it's not looking good.
"We've had two or three local people or groups express some interest, but it's not gone past some preliminary or early stages, which is, I think, the nature of the time frame," explained Potter.
Hewitt said for the sake of her daughter's happiness, she hopes something can happen within the next 20 days.
"I feel she learned a lot, she was around kids her age, she was able to connect with other kids and enjoyed it. She seemed to like coming here all the time," said Hewitt.
Potter said the CASA program will survive. He said it's cheaper to pay the volunteer advocates than pay lawyers. He said the CASA offices may remain at the youth center building for a little while, but other options for the offices are at the courthouse or an annexed building.
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