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Youth agency finds shelter under Children's Bureau umbrella

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Children’s Bureau Inc. is taking over operations of a Noblesville not-for-profit in “fiscal distress” after the smaller agency lost a key federal grant.

Promising Futures of Central Indiana was forced to close a group home for pregnant and parenting teenagers earlier this year when funding for its flagship program dried up amid the federal budget sequester.

Already operating with a small deficit (expenses exceeded revenue by about $20,000 in 2011, according to its most recent tax filing), the abrupt drop in income “pushed it over the edge,” Children’s Bureau CEO Tina Cloer told IBJ.

Board members voted this summer to dissolve Promising Futures and began looking for an organization that could take over the services it provides to children and families.

The 40-year-old agency is the youth-services bureau for Hamilton and Tipton counties, offering homelessness prevention programs, providing supervised visitation and delivering a range of therapy services. It worked with 670 children last year, utilizing a budget of about $700,000.

Indianapolis-based Children’s Bureau, founded in 1851, provides counseling, adoption, foster care, group home care and a crisis shelter. It served about 37,000 children last year in 47 counties throughout the state. Its budget: more than $15 million.

“We deliver a number of services in Hamilton County, but not the same services,” Cloer said. “This [merger] allows us to expand our continuum of care.”

Promising Futures cut about two-thirds of its staff when it closed the group home, she said; most of the remaining nine employees will stay on under the Children’s Bureau. Executive Director Stephanie Lyons will assist during the transition.

Cloer said the combined operation will be more efficient, but there are no plans to reopen the pregnancy center.

“We can’t bring it back,” she said. “That money went away.”

Officials are in the process of meeting with funders to ensure grants and other program revenue will continue to flow to the merged organization.

United Way of Central Indiana helped cover the acquisition costs.

“UWCI commends the decision of the Children's Bureau and Promising Futures to combine in a way that ensure important programs will continue to serve Hamilton County in an ever more efficient and sustainable model,” CEO Ann Murtlow said in a prepared statement.

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