Bedford County awarded grant to support families, youth

BEDFORD, July 31, 2018 - The Bedford County Commissioners have been awarded a $146,088 grant that will help support families and youth in the Bedford and Northern Bedford County school districts, Commissioners Chairman Josh Lang announced.

 The competitive grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) will allow the Bedford County Communities that Care Prevention Board, Unified Family Services Systems (UFSS), to implement the Strengthening Families Program 10-14 (SFP 10-14) at the two districts for the next two years.

 The Bedford County grant award was one of 21 approved by the Commission last month through its Violence and Delinquency Prevention Program, which seeks to support programs that based on rigorous testing and evidence have been proven to promote healthy youth development.

 According to Lang, since 2002 UFSS has partnered with the Commissioners and Bedford County school districts to bring nearly $20 million in competitive state and federal grant funding to support Bedford County children, youth and families with programs such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after school program; the early childhood program for parents and children, the Incredible Years; the Raising Healthy Children program for elementary children and their families and the LifeSkills Training program for middle school youth and their parents. These and other UFSS initiatives have provided services to more than 10,000 youth and families since 2006.

 The National Association of Counties earlier this year recognized Bedford County for using innovative strategies to bring services to children and families through its partnership with UFSS and Commissioner Lang participated in a national roundtable at the Association’s annual meeting this spring.

 The newest grant will complete the implementation of SFP 10-14 throughout Bedford County. Previous PCCD grants beginning in 2015 on behalf of UFSS brought the program to Hyndman, Tussey Mountain, Everett and Chestnut Ridge and those programs will continue in 2018-19 through a combination of support from Bedford County Children and Youth Services and continuation of PCCD funding, said Lyn Skillington, UFSS executive director.

 SFP 10-14 includes seven weekly sessions attended by youth 10-14 years old and their parents/caregivers. Families are offered a meal and then participate in separate workshops for an hour before coming together as a group for a second hour. Sessions include fun, games-based activities with an emphasis on family bonding, team-building, positive communication, peer pressure refusal skills and creating a positive self-image and future story.

 Past implementations of SFP 10-14 by UFSS have exceeded outcomes seen statewide, according to Skillington, with 155 families completing programming over the past two years. More than 70 percent of youth and parents reported positive outcomes such as improved parent-youth relationships, family problem-solving and peer pressure refusal skills. In addition, researchers have found that long-term, youth attending the program have significantly lower rates of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use and improved academic performance compared to control youth.

 In October 2017 the Washington State Institute of Public Policy estimated after subtracting costs there is a $4,547 savings for each family that completes SFP 10-14 due to a reduced need for services and improved youth outcomes.

 Based on the 155 families who completed SFP 10-14 cohorts through UFSS in the past two years, Skillington said the region can expect to see future savings of more than $700,000 due to a reduced need for services and improved youth outcomes.

 Programs at all Bedford County school districts and the Hope for Hyndman Charter School will be offered this fall. For more information contact your school or UFSS, 814-624-4810 or e-mail