After 35 years of service, Access Counseling is no longer providing low-income counseling in Boulder as the cash-strapped agency reduces its three local offices to one.
The Boulder location, 1534, 55th St., closed Friday, to be followed on Nov. 16 by the Longmont branch, 611 Ken Pratt Blvd. The newer Louisville office will remain open pending approval of grant money from Boulder County, Executive Director Kim Felton said.
"Counseling is such an incredible need for people, especially those dealing with job loss and the pressures of the economy," Felton said. "It's unfortunate. It was a difficult decision, but we've lost some big funding."
Felton said the small nonprofit organization decided to close two of its three locations mainly because of a shortfall of grant money. The organization's board of directors also decided in May to sell the Boulder location.
Richard Johnson, Boulder's community services manager, said Access Counseling was not recommended as a recipient for a $60,000 grant in 2010 from the city's human services fund.
He said the city recognizes the need for counseling for low-income residents, but had concerns about "the way the program is run and managed."
In the meantime, Access Counseling is proposing a merger with the YWCA. If the merger goes through, the YWCA plans to integrate low-cost counseling with its existing family programs, Felton said.
Yet Boulder's Johnson said the proposal for the YWCA to take over counseling services also is problematic.
"Our human services experts didn't see the expertise there to take on mental health counseling," he said. "There are a lot of ifs."
Felton said the management issues, which didn't involve how the organization managed its budget, have since been resolved. She also said the YWCA proposal is a way to continue to meet the needs for counseling in the community.
"The programs at the YWCA are very complementary," she said. "It would be a family resource center. We feel it would be an incredible resource."
Access Counseling, which has a $600,000 budget, has been funded through grants from Boulder County, the city of Boulder, private organizations and individual donors.
Last year, Access Counseling served more than 1,200 people through 10,000 individual counseling sessions. The Louisville location opened earlier this year.
Access provides counseling on a sliding scale for individuals, families, couples and teens through graduate level supervised by licensed professional therapists.
The organization also provides a neutral site where divorced or separated parents can transfer their children "without conflict and hostility."
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