Mid-Coast receives nearly half of original funding request

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Staff at Mid-Coast Family Services see the $600,000 in belated federal funding it has received as a time to rebuild its youth prevention program.

In late July, Ginny Stafford, Mid-Coast's CEO, learned its request for nearly $1.5 million for the program was denied, leaving the nonprofit one month to figure out how the program would continue for the next four years.

The nonprofit appealed and Friday night learned it wouldn't be empty handed but would still have some struggles.

"There will have to be some changes," Stafford said.

In 15 years, Mid-Coast's youth prevention program, which serves 50 Crossroads area schools in preventing drug, alcohol and tobacco use, has always received the funding requested, Stafford said.

Federal funding this go around was allocated based on high-population, metropolitan areas, said state Rep. Geanie Morrison,, who Stafford said championed the agency.

"It's just so critical," Morrison said of the funding. "It's not the total grant funding. ... But it's a huge win for Mid-Coast."

Morrison said a majority of the funding went to agencies in Bexar County but argued that rural schools, like those in the Crossroads, need all the help they can get.

The federal money is handed down to the Texas Department of State Health Services for distribution.

Morrison said as soon as she learned of the funding denial, she spoke with the department's commissioner, David Lakey.

Morrison's biggest pitch was the population growth the Crossroads has seen in the past several years because of the Eagle Ford Shale and companies like Caterpillar.

Mid-Coast serves about 10,000 students, some who receive individual counseling, Stafford said.

The agency has already discussed cuts to staffing, programs and schools, but Stafford said it's premature to know exactly what school and what programs would be impacted.

So far, the staff of 17 has downsized to about nine.

Stafford expects some of the program's services will target students already dealing with substance abuse issues instead of overall awareness presentations.

Stafford is also planning fundraisers and looking into other grant programs.

Prevention, she said, is a method of awareness that should not go unnoticed.

With the competition growing for funds, the agency will have to work even harder to show how successful its program can be, she said.

"We believe Victoria is a better community because of prevention," she said. "We'll keep that tradition going."