The Arkansas Department of Human Services announced it will cut $2.2 million from programs related to preventing child abuse due to a reduction in federal funding.
The cuts are expected to occur on July 1, 2012 and are a result of lower funding for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:
“It was not easy for us to give up these programs because we know they have helped thousands of struggling families in Arkansas,” DHS Director John Selig said. “Unfortunately, we have to cut them in order to keep caseworkers who work to ensure the safety and well-being of children.”
DHS plans to eliminate the Human Services Workers in Schools Program, which last fiscal year placed workers in 27 school districts and served 15,429 students. The program provides student and family counseling, parent training, crisis intervention and other services to lessen the strain on families and reduce the likelihood of abuse or neglect.
The agency also plans to eliminate the funding it provides for Family Resource Centers, which served 11,448 students last fiscal year. The centers educate parents about child development and appropriate responses to a child’s behavior.
Agency officials also said they will reduce funding for the Crimes Against Children Division of the Arkansas State Police, or CACD.
Children’s advocates were quick to raise concerns.
Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), says that as we reduce prevention services like the two programs eliminated by DCFS today, we will begin to see even more children enter the foster care system.
“As funding becomes tight, we need to look at the state budget, including the TANF budget, and make sure we protect our top priority – the health, well-being and safety of our children,” Huddleston said. “The state has very tough choices to make in the short-term as funding is cut that will affect the long-term needs of our children. As caseloads of DCFS workers increase, the safety of our children will be in jeopardy.”
His organization is calling on state legislators to address the budget shortfall in in the 2013 legislative session.