Choice: A Baltimore Program Seeks to Keep Youth Out of Institutions and in the Mainstream

August 1990 / Abell Reports / Education, Health and Human Services

Is it an “answer”? At stake: young lives and taxpayers’ dollars.

As you read this, you are paying with your taxes your share of as much as $42,000 for every abused and neglected child, every delinquent, truant, ungovernable, or runaway child that the state’s social service systems have seen fit to place in a residential facility.

That is one system for dealing with the problem. There is another: Choice. Operated by the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Choice is a public/ private partnership with major founda­tion and private sector support. The program works to keep the young person out of the state’s correctional and welfare systems and at considerable savings to the community. Cost per child over a 12-month period: $7,200.

What is Choice? Can it promise to keep an at-risk child out of the costlier end of the residential placement–saving the tax payer important tax dollars, and, at the same time, allowing that same tax­ payer to enjoy the benefits that accrue to his community when a young and at-risk youth has been turned into a productive and achieving one?