Monday, June 8, 2009

$7.4M budget cut will further jeopardize safety of children

Proposed Cuts to Foster Care Protested at New York City Hall
Phillip, Joshua. Epoch Times, June 4, 2009.

Foster care agencies are being threatened with a $7.4 million cut in New York City’s 2010 budget. On Thursday the steps of City Hall were swamped with more than 100 parents and foster care providers.

They were joined by Council Member Bill de Blasio to rally against the proposals, concerned that the cuts would jeopardize the safety of children throughout New York.

“We cannot play Russian roulette with the safety of our children,” said Council Member Bill de Blasio in a press release.

Several sectors of New York are being impacted as the city tries to close a $1.9 billion budget gap. The deficit emerged largely from a $6.8 billion drop in anticipated tax revenue, as jobs and homes were lost amid the global financial crisis.

“Times are tough all over, but gutting programs that protect children is not the answer,” said Mr. de Blasio.

The five percent cut will impact the city’s 35 foster care agencies and near 17,000 foster children. Among the effects of the cuts would be the elimination of 1,000 positions at the Administration for Children’s Services.

Richard Altman, CEO of the Jewish Child Care Association explained that the cuts will result in staff reductions and services that will cause longer lengths of stay for kids in foster care.

“These abused and neglected children and youth are literally in the custody of the city--so the city must not cut the services that protect their safety and well-being," said Mr. Altman. "These children deserve a permanent family connection without delay.”

There is also a proposal to eliminate funding for the Child Safety Initiative, which helps to lower caseloads at community-based preventive service programs. The initiative currently costs the city $4.2 million a year.

“Without the funds needed to support lower caseloads through the Child Safety Initiative our ability to perform ... will be seriously compromised,” said Charles Barrios, division director of Brooklyn Preventive Service Programs at Good Shepherd Services.

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