County aims to keep human services programs
SUMMIT COUNTY – County commissioners say they won’t take cuts to their human services programs lying down.
While the county budget is admittedly limited – nearly $2 million was cut from this year’s budget – County Commissioner Bill Wallace said he wants to take a look at finding money to keep those programs up and running.
“If we need to backfill to cover these important social service programs, we really need to consider that,” he said. “The young adult and young child intervention is so important. “
Federal and state budget cuts are hitting Summit County’s human services department hard and will take a toll on programs ranging from Mountain Mentors to family mediation. Many of those state budget reduction choices were made by Gov. Bill Owens, and Wallace thinks Owens’ priorities are skewed.
“I don’t think we need to follow the priorities the state sets,” Wallace said. “We have a governor who thinks the solution is to build more prisons, who thinks non-violent criminals need to be incarcerated. The amount of money that takes is astronomical.”
Locally, the cuts will take a toll on such basic programs as child care offered on a sliding scale to low-income clients. Human services director Daphne Schroth said her department has a healthy reserve, but it likely will run dry this year.
Like Wallace, Schroth questions the direction the current administration is taking.
“We seem to be going backwards,” she said, “not validating our children and families – the things that are most dear to all of us.”
“You could be penny-wise and pound-
foolish,” County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said. “In cutting back early childhood programs, you might very well end up having to pay for prisons later.”
Wallace said he doesn’t yet know where the money would come from but that he would like to consider all 26 county departments for potential human services funding.
Meanwhile, Schroth and the other employees in human services are exploring all the avenues – among them grants and community partnerships – that could bring the department more money.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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