Arlington wants more information about proposed group home for teen moms

ARLINGTON -- A proposal for a group foster home for pregnant teens or teen mothers has been shelved while the city conducts a study to see whether the project best addresses the needs of the city's homeless youth.

On Tuesday, the Arlington City Council decided not to fund Catholic Charities' plans to build a 5,000-square-foot group home in south Arlington that would provide services and temporary shelter to teens in Child Protective Services' custody.

The closest such facility is in San Antonio, the nonprofit agency's leaders said.

Catholic Charities, which has worked with CPS for 25 years, was seeking $450,000 in federal grants from Arlington to build the house on donated land at Cooper Street south of Sublett Road. The proposal was one of several projects recommended by the United Way in Arlington to be funded this year from $5 million in federal grants.

But council members said they had too many questions about the shelter's operations as well as some concerns about the proposed site, which is in a residential area. The grant money has been set aside pending more research.

"It wasn't ready yet," Councilwoman Lana Wolff said of the shelter proposal. "We think in theory it would address a need, but we said, 'Take it back to the United Way committee, get some of those issues ironed out.'"

Heather Reynolds, Catholic Charities' president and CEO, said the agency will participate in the study and will continue working toward opening a homeless youth shelter.

Under the proposal, up to 12 children would live in the home under the care of a foster couple who would be paid to live in and run the house, Reynolds said. The children would receive services such as counseling, parenting classes and life-skills training.

Wolff said a 2005 study identified homeless teen boys as the city's top priority.

SUSAN SCHROCK, 817-390-7639