State lawmakers are now sifting through funding requests from state agencies, and comparing them to Governor Greitens budget.
The House Budget Committee held a hearing Wednesday to review funding proposals for children’s services. The state Department of Social Services is asking for $600 million to cover programs such as foster care and the purchase of child care for low income families.
Governor Greitens has proposed a budget of about $14 million less, which Children’s Division Director Tim Decker thinks will work out.
“Our growth of kids in care is trending down, so we forecast based on the trend line” said Decker. “Since our numbers are down a little bit even more this year, not an overall decrease, but the growth has decreased> We adjust the numbers. So we believe the governor’s number is adequate for what we’re seeing right now.”
The biggest expense for the Children’s Division is funding to assist low income families and provide services such as early childhood learning. The Division’s asking for just over $189 million, while Greitens has budgeted $3 million less.
The next big item ticket is roughly $89 million being sought to provide financial assistance to parents who are adopting children from state custody. Greitens has proposed just over $1 million less.
The third biggest expense for the Children’s Division is field staffing, including social workers. The department is requesting about $89 million, while Greitens has earmarked $88 million.
Foster Care comes in fourth at $66 million, but spirals to over $100 million if related expenses such as Case Management Contracts are thrown in. The Governor, like with the three other services, is proposing a slight decrease in funding.
Some of the programs, including assistance to low income families, have spiked in the past year. Director Decker says the rise in these areas is largely because of the time children spend in care.
“We have to work both ends of it” said Decker. “We have to try to invest on the front end to hopefully prevent kids from having to come into care. But then we also have to make sure once they are, that they’re in care for as short a time as possible to make sure that they’re safe and well cared for.”
The Children’s Division has been saved from some of the much larger cuts from Governor Greitens which total $572 million during the next fiscal year starting in July.