BERLIN — Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) gave the Berlin Mayor and Council the first of several planned updates on local youth programs Monday.
WYFCS was contracted by the council earlier this spring to evaluate current area youth activities and to devise new ones, all specifically tailored toward Berlin. WYFCS Executive Director Teresa Fields informed the council the first steps in the effort had already been taken.
“We have identified gaps in service that we all know are out there,” she said. “We’re in the process of organizing all available resources.”
Fields explained that WYFCS was in a preliminary stage of program examination and development. Fields said 79 youth programs had been inventoried and that the information gathered would help model the two programs WYFCS currently has planned for this summer.
Development and Donor Relations Director Stefanie Gordy elaborated more on what her organization was hoping to accomplish over the summer.
“There are a lack of summer programs that are affordable for our kids in the area,” she said.
In response, WYFCS plans on offering two options for local youth — a two-week program in August and another program that would run from mid-June until August and meet once a day, two days a week. Both have a target age of 8-14 years old and Gordy expressed a hope that the programs would expand by next summer. For the time being, she explained WYFCS just wants to lay the groundwork.
“This summer we’re looking for some small success,” she said.
Besides the programs, WYFCS will be establishing a Berlin Youth Advisory Committee over the next few months to keep track of progress.
“We’re still very excited about the project,” said Gordy.
She also mentioned a few steps already taken to assist established youth programs around Berlin, specifically, helping to equip the Berlin Dolphins, a Salvation Army Youth Football League.
Fields reminded the council that setting up the long-term infrastructure Berlin wants could take six months or more, but that WYFCS was ahead of schedule.
“We’re beginning,” said Mayor Gee Williams. “You’ve made such progress in a short time.”
Councilwoman Lisa Hall was optimistic about the direction of WYFCS and explained her belief that they were filling a critical niche.
“We really need something for youth to do when school gets out,” she said.
Gordy added her organization plans on setting up afterschool programs as early as next fall.