Saturday, October 17, 2009

Residential treatment centers receive massive budget cuts

State funding cuts to foster care and treatment programs hurting local agencies
Lee, Alfred. Pasadena Star-News, October 14, 2009.

Rosemary Children's Services is facing a 10 percent cut from the state this year.

A 10-percent cut in state funding has forced local foster care and residential treatment programs to eliminate some services and beds for needy children, officials said Wednesday.

The reduction took effect Oct. 1 and was approved by the state Legislature in an effort to fix the state's budget gap.

In Pasadena, Rosemary's Children's Services will lose out on $660,000 in funding and is looking at cutting services, Executive Director Greg Wessels said.

"It's very discouraging. You'd like to think that the work you've chosen for your life is important not just to you but to everybody else. Then you realize that there are much bigger realities," he said.

Keyonna, 16, has been living at one of Rosemary's residential treatment centers for four months after being kicked around the system since she was a small child. Her mother was a drug addict and couldn't take care of her, she said.

"It's been hard for me, and now that I'm here in this program, it's helped a lot," Keyonna said. "It's helping us grow into adulthood."

For Altadena-based children's services agency Five Acres, the cuts will result in a loss of about $800,000 in funding per year, said Executive Director Bob Ketch.

As a result, Five Acres has already shuttered a six-bed group home and reduced staff for foster care services, and the agency is also looking at further cuts in the number of children it serves.

"Every week I read an intake summary...and these are often times histories of kids who have been in multiple placements, who've been abused and neglected by their families and also by the system," Ketch said. "These are kids that are hurting and they need help."

Pasadena-based Hathaway-Sycamores has also closed six beds and made cuts at its residential treatment center, in addition to cuts to its foster care services. The agency will lose out on about $275,000, officials said.

And Hillsides, also based in Pasadena, stands to lose about $450,000 and has made some administrative cuts, said Associate Executive Director Suzanne Crummey.

Such programs had already been struggling, agency officials said. The state has not raised its reimbursement rate for such services since 1990, said Hathaway-Sycamores President Bill Martone.

Hathaway-Sycamores has gone down from 178 beds in 2005 to 34 beds now, although part of the reason was due to changes in program philosophy, Martone said.

"When a child has an acute situation that really requires that level of intervention and it's not there, then I think we have some real problems in our child welfare system, and I think that's the danger of under-funding," Martone said.

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10 Comments:

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8:34 PM  
Blogger Antoine Lockhart said...

Ouch! This would really heart residential treatment facility. They are a very important component in keeping order in the society and so they should not be experiencing reduction on budgeted expenditure.

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