Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 22, 2013

Child and Family Services to absorb Third Level Crisis Intervention Center

TRAVERSE CITY — Two of northwest Michigan’s long-standing human services organizations will unite by the end of this year, an effort to save on administrative costs and better serve their clientele.

Third Level Crisis Intervention Center will dissolve as a legal entity and move its programs to the legal umbrella of Child and Family Services. The clientele won’t see a difference, though, since Third Level will stay in the same sprawling house on East Front Street and retain all but one of its 35 employees.

Ken Homa, Third Level’s executive director, said he’ll lose his job by year end with no immediate job prospects, but it’s all for the best.

“The new organization will strengthen the services to the community and also the people we serve,” he said.

Homa said talks began in May after Third Level witnessed a serious “bump” in cash flow resulting from unexpected changes in state reimbursements.

The nonprofit recovered, but the financial problems triggered a long-term strategy to get bigger and run more efficiently, Homa said.

Third Level, founded 41 years ago, provides a 24/7 crisis help line, free legal aid, Pete’s Shelter for homeless youth, outreach to high-risk and homeless teens, and a program for gay and lesbian youth. The nonprofit, with a $1.2 million budget, serves about 585 youth and received 26,000 crisis calls last year, Homa said.

Child and Family Services, founded 76 years ago, is older and bigger with an annual budget of about $5.4 million. It annually serves about 300 children of all ages in foster care, completes about 90 adoptions a year, and serves more than 150 other youths through programs aimed at combating abuse and neglect. It provides counseling for youth and families, including women with untimely pregnancies and abuse victims.

Homa said the single organization will make it easier for clientele to navigate between programs. Older teens in CFS’s foster care program, for example, can more easily move to Third Level’s transitional housing program, which teaches teens independent living skills.

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