Commissioners OK Children and Youth budget

The Warren County Commissioners approved the Children and Youth Services budget for 2013/2014 fiscal year at $803,820, the same county allocation approved for the previous year.

“As you know we were cut last year on our county match, once again we’re requesting that our match continue at the $803,820, even though our budget reflects a $834,918, but based on service projections this is for 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 because we have to do the needs-based planning ahead,” said Mary Kushner, Forest-Warren Human Services Director.

Last year the commissioners reduced county match funding by $90,000 to the same amount of $803,820.

Juvenile placements are going up, but Kushner said she’s hoping to see the rates of placements down, and that is why the 2014/2015 figures are projected at $834,918.

“We got through the year last year with a reduction, was there any lack of services available because of that?,” asked Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco.

“We eliminated programs, yes,” said Kushner.

“Right, but not mandatory,” Vanco replied.

“Not mandatory, no” said Kushner, adding about $100,000 in drug and alcohol funding was unavailable because the agency didn’t have match money.

“We’re maintaining,” she said.

According to Kushner, the CYS 2012/2013 program operated under budget with a mid-year county budget cut; total placements for CYS are reduced and continue to decline; total placements for the Juvenile Probation Office were steady and were shorter compared to other Class 6 counties; no children were victims of re-abuse; nine children found permanent homes through adoption; CYS complied with all bulletins and acts; and Warren County CYS was given a full license to operate for 2013.

CYS faced a number of challenges for 2012/2013 including a independent living program and services returning to the county when the provider ended its contract. Staff turnover continues to be a problem and creates an increased cost to the county to train new staff with families and children facing constant turnover. She also noted an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol by juveniles, an increase in sexual assaults in the county by both adult and juvenile offenders, a 34-percent increase in the number of cases accepted for investigation, and a decrease in county funding.

Looking to the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 calendar years, Kushner said goals include maximizing resources by increasing collaboration between CYS and the Juvenile Probation Office; decreasing CYS and JPO placements by 10 percent and implementing a comprehensive family assessment tool. She also noted preparation and implementation of a continuous quality improvement program, assessment of county services for entrance into Child Welfare Demonstration Project, and evaluating placement data and trying to reduce recidivism rates.