County looking at ways to aid Children’s Services

Published 10:14 am Friday, March 13, 2009

Lawrence County officials are looking for ways to continue funding Children’s Services in light of the state budget cuts.

Since 1982 the state has required the county to at least partly fund Children’s Services. Commissioner Jason Stephens pointed out most counties in the state have a levy to do just that. Lawrence County doesn’t have such a levy (one that would have funded CS was defeated by voters a little more than a year ago) but has managed to fund the services anyway through other sources. Lawrence County Job and Family Services Director Gene Myers said the state may reduce its Title 20 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) dollars to the county from $795,000 to zero beginning July 1. This money pays for, among other things, investigative services and foster care for abused and neglected children.

“We’re working to get it (the funding) reinstated,” Myers said.

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The budget cut to TANF is in addition to cuts in other areas.

“We’re getting up to one-third of our operating money cut and attrition won’t keep up,” Myers said.

Some of the options the county will investigate in its effort to keep CS operational: combine Children’s Services with the services provided at the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home.

Commissioners asked Myers to provide them with all the necessary information to determine whether this could be feasible. Another option: layoffs. Myers said the number of jobs that could be at risk is “in the 20s.”

Stephens said he hopes there are other options “we don’t know about.”

The commission Thursday agreed to notify the union that represents the JFS employees there could be layoffs. Boggs said the county has both an obligation to the children of Lawrence County to provide these services and to save as many jobs as possible.