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Northumberland County unveils Family Engagement Center

The goal of the center is to help strengthen families and keep children out of the foster care system.

SUNBURY, Pa. — Colorful paint and bright pictures cover the walls at the new Family Engagement Center in Sunbury.  

The center has been in the works in Northumberland County for more than ten years to bring and keep families together.

"When you have stronger families in the neighborhood, you simply have better communities. You have less people in court, and you have less children that grew up in a trauma-focused family," Northumberland County Commissioner Kym Best said.

Northumberland County Children and Youth Services Administrator Katrina Gownley said classes for both parents and children will be offered at the center starting next month.

"To learn budgeting, cooking, we have a washer and dryer to teach them how to do laundry. In addition to that, we will have truancy services for folks," Katrina Gownley said.

The main goal of the Family Engagement Center is to help keep children out of foster care.

Six years ago, Northumberland County had around 260 children in foster care.

Now, that number is 68.  

Gownley believes this center will help lower that number even more by breaking the cycle of dysfunction.

"This is a huge opportunity for families to make their own decisions to protect their own children because they know them better than any agency," Gownley said.

"As she reduces the numbers in care, that really helps the court system. We can now devote more time with handling our growing number of criminal cases and things like that," Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor said.

Gownley said services at the center will most likely start in September.  

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