State budget cuts now hitting children’s programs
SUMMIT COUNTY – Gov. Bill Owens’ recent budget cuts are impacting still more Summit County programs, the latest aimed at getting babies off to a good start and helping keep youths healthy.
Both the Community Infant and the Prevention Pilot programs suffered financial blows, to the tune of more than $75,000 total.
Youth and Family Services director Daphne Schroth told the county commissioners Monday funds have been found to continue the Community Infant Program through the end of the year. County staff and other local agencies are seeking money to keep the Prevention Pilot up and running as well.
This week, she asked the commissioners for financial help. Schroth plans to return to the commissioners Monday to ask if they’ve made a decision.
The Community Infant program helps 12 to 15 Summit County families a year. It is aimed at high-risk moms, Schroth said, many of whom are addicted to drugs and alcohol, single and/or who are very young and lacking parenting skills. The program brings health professionals into homes so they can give mothers advice about caring for their child.
Other funds threaten the county’s Warm Welcome program, which provides all new parents with baskets of baby-related items, including immunization record forms and smoke alarms.
The Prevention Pilot is a program only recently under way in seven Colorado communities. It’s designed to take a look at prevention services and determine if there are gaps in that system and how to make the programs more easily accessible to community members.
“Summit County has a wide array of prevention programs, but they are difficult for people to understand,” Schroth said. For example, they might need to know, “Where to do I go to get this service for my child?”
Prevention services include drug and alcohol prevention, child abuse prevention and giving people access to overall health services. They are aimed at children from ages 0 to 18.
Community members are dedicated to keeping the Prevention Pilot going, though they concede that because of financial constraints, it may not continue for the originally scheduled two years.
The cuts in human services are part of the same wave that left the district attorney’s juvenile diversion program scrambling for money, dealt a blow to the county’s child care licensing division and forced the Summit County Library to cut back on some of its programs.
Commissioners didn’t immediately offer funds to support the programs, but their comments indicate they’re supportive.
“At the risk of attracting the ire of someone else in the community, we’ve got $100,000 in Blue River ballfields (funds),” said Commissioner Bill Wallace. “If I had to fund some of these human services vs. having a nicer, manicured ballfield … I think we’re being pound wise and penny foolish if we eliminate some of these programs.”
“If we could have the open space funds in a county that is already 75 percent open space, we could send the kids to school with gold-plated lunch boxes,” said Commissioner Tom Long.
“It’s a matter of priorities,” Schroth said. “I will always think children come first.”
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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