Torres says the funding for the programs were part of a three-year grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, but that grant expired on June 30. He is hopeful that Persad will find replacement funding for youth programs in the near future.
“LGBTQ youth continues to be a priority for us and to provide services for youth,” says Torres. “We are actively looking for funding.”
Lyndsey Sickler, Persad's Youth Programs Coordinator since 2014, was the person whose job was eliminated today.
"While I am sad, I am proud of my work," Sickler posted on Facebook on Tuesday evening. "I'm glad for the time spent, relationships built not only with staff, but with all the youth and young adults I've had the joy of serving through Persad's various community programs over 16 years."
Torres said that all other programs at Persad will be continuing and no one else at Persad is losing their job. Workers at the LGBTQ service provider recently formed a union, but Torres says that the workers and management are still in contract negotiations. There have been some rumors floating around in the community about Persad having to cut all of its programs, but Torres says those rumors are unfounded.
“Everything that we have been doing is continuing to happen,” says Torres, who notes the center runs an LGBTQ foster program and health and substance-abuse programs. “And we feel confident in the next few months to reopen the program for LGBTQ youth.”
The youth programs were serving about 200 youth a year, according to Torres. He says that under the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of state funding shifted, which he says he understands. Torres is not only confident that Persad will be able to find replacement funding for the youth programs, but that Persad will continue to thrive and possibly expand.
“Shutting down is not an option for us,” says Torres, who notes Persad has been around for more than 48 years. “We are looking forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary.”