Placed just two in homes last year

Agency

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - A ‘No one knows where the .... board stands be­cause it was never brought be­fore them. ’

num­ber of sin­gle women choos­ing to par­ent their in­fants, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of agen­cies that pro­vide adop­tion ser­vices, an in­creas­ing num­ber of re­sources for such fam­i­lies and a slowly de­clin­ing birthrate, Catholic Char­i­ties of­fi­cials say.

Mary­wood — for­merly the Home of the Holy In­fancy — was cre­ated in 1921 by the Daugh­ters of Char­ity, a Catholic or­der, to help un­wed moth­ers and adop­tive fam­i­lies. In the fol­low­ing nine decades, Mary­wood served more than 7,000 fam­i­lies. It housed teen moth­ers, found homes for fos­ter chil­dren and helped fam­i­lies pre­pare for their new ad­di­tions.

But the Austin non­profit strug­gled fi­nan­cially for more than a decade as place­ments de­clined sharply, state sup­port de­creased and do­na­tions dwin­dled. Thirty years ago, Mary­wood found homes for about 120 chil­dren a year. Last year, it placed two.

In 2004, the non­profit closed An­nalee House — a res­i­den­tial pro­gram that housed about 40 teen moth­ers and their chil­dren each year — be­cause of money prob­lems. At that time, Mary­wood laid off nearly two dozen em­ploy­ees.

In Septem­ber 2010, the char­ity for­mally part­nered with Catholic Char­i­ties of Cen­tral Texas, which pro­vides ser­vices such as dis­as­ter as­sis­tance, le­gal help, lit­er­acy classes and life

While nearly 200 cities, coun­ties and other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the coun­try of­fer domestic part­ner ben­e­fits, Pflugerville would be the first school district in the state to do so. The move was rec­om­mended by an in­surance ben­e­fits ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee of school work­ers.

Em­ploy­ees seek­ing domestic part­ner cov­er­age were re­quired to sign an af­fi­davit stat­ing they have jointly shared a per­ma­nent res­i­dence for at least one year and had to show proof of at least two of the fol­low­ing: a joint lease, mort­gage or deed; joint own­er­ship of a ve­hi­cle; joint own­er­ship of bank­ing or credit card ac­counts; or proof of power of at­tor­ney or a will at­test­ing to the domestic part­ner as a ben­e­fi­ciary of life in­surance.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Charles Dupre said at the time that of­fer­ing such ben­e­fits is “a strong state- skills train­ing. Its Gabriel Project Life Cen­ters of­fer ser­vices to women and men dur­ing cri­sis preg­nan­cies and through the first year of the baby’s life.

Although Mary­wood re­mained an in­de­pen­dent non­profit, it was funded by Catholic Char­i­ties and treated as a pro­gram of the dio­cese. Mary­wood’s staff va­cated its long­time home on West 26th Street, and the hand­ful of re­main­ing em­ploy­ees re­lo­cated to Catholic Char­i­ties’ of­fice at 1625 Rutherford Lane.

But while the non­profit now had fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity, it could not ex­pand its pro­grams. Sev­eral ment of anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion.” He said the district was ad­vo­cat­ing for eq­uity and so­cial jus­tice and put a strong value on all em­ploy­ees.

“The board has the author­ity to dis­cuss any mat­ter they see fit in the district and I re­spect their right to do so,” Dupre said Thurs­day night.

Au­gust Plock, pres­i­dent of the Pflugerville Educators As­so­ci­a­tion, a lo­cal af­fil­i­ate of the Texas State Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, said the ma­jor­ity of em­ploy­ees are in fa­vor of the domestic part­ner ben­e­fits.

Though op­po­nents equate it to spon­sor­ing or en­dors­ing gay mar­riage, Plock said, it’s really an is­sue of equal­ity.

“The teacher down the hall from me should have the same ben­e­fits as my fam­ily if I choose to cover my wife and child,” Plock said. “We want to main­tain th­ese ben­e­fits. We don’t want to see them taken away from us.”

Former trustee John Carl­ton, who said he is against of­fer­ing the ben­e­fits, said the is­sue should have been de­cided pub­licly.

“Some­thing this con­tro­ver­sial needs to come up be­fore the elected of­fi­cials to see who stands where, so, through the

Amer­i­can-states­man 1996

Pho­tos and news­pa­per clip­pings adorn a room at the home of teen moth­ers at the Mary­wood Chil­dren and Fam­ily Ser­vices adop­tion agency. Mary­wood was cre­ated in 1921 and will close Dec. 31.

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