Youth Services in States of Pain

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With the national economic crisis deepening, youth programs and youth service advocates are scrambling to save funding as they cut their current budgets and prepare more cuts for next year.

Two strategies commonly being used by advocates: Pressing for use of state rainy-day funds before any youth services are reduced and for avoidance of cuts in Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) at a time when both will be sorely needed and can be significantly maximized by federal funds from the federal stimulus package.

Still unclear is how that stimulus will affect the state budgets.

Not every state is in crisis. Wyoming has a $200 million budget surplus. Pennsylvania projects no budget shortfall next year and might expand education and child welfare services. But those states are exceptions.

With help from the state affiliates of Voices for America’s Children, Youth Today tried to find out what youth funding might be on the chopping block around the country. Following are selected cuts being considered or implemented in many of the states, along with budget deficit projections for this fiscal year and next, as provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.


2009 deficit: $253 million
2010 deficit: $0

• Considering disenrollment of some children from its SCHIP program for the first time.

• Increased Medicaid co-pays for low-income families.

• Courts are deciding what youth-serving agency budgets can or cannot be cut, because some are involved in lawsuits that put them under court monitoring.


2009 deficit: $604 million
2010 deficit: $343 million

• Postponed expansion of SCHIP, which would have increased the eligibility of families covered from 205 percent of the federal poverty line to 250 percent.


2009 deficit: $392 million
2010 deficit: $2.5 billion

• Department of Social Services ($17.4 million in reductions) and Department of Children and Families ($5.4 million) are among the agencies cut the most for 2009.

• $2.2 million reduction in three juvenile programs: alternatives to incarceration, juvenile justice centers and youthful offender services.

• $600,000 cut from the Child Protection Commission, which provides lawyers for youth in foster care.


2009 deficit: $2.2 billion
2010 deficit: $2.2 billion

• Family planning services face cuts of 30 percent for 2009 and 40 percent for 2010. Teen clinics around the state have begun to close, reports Mindy Binderman of Voices for Georgia’s Children.

• Stays at state-run juvenile boot camps may be reduced from 60 days to 30 days.

• The number of eligibility workers and caseworkers at the Department of Family and Child Services has been reduced.


2009 deficit: $186 million
2010 deficit: $1.1 billion

• Early Head Start expected to be cut deeply or eliminated.


2009 deficit: $456 million
2010 deficit: $0

• Eliminated a nationally recognized juvenile crime prevention strategy, in which Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice gave funds to localities for community programs.


2009 deficit: $426 million
2010 deficit: $2.6 billion

• Stopped funding of Fourth Judicial District family court supervised visitation services.

• Reduced staffing for Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Service Center.


2009 deficit: $142 million
2010 deficit: $650 million

• 2009 proposal includes cuts in daycare for low-income children.

• Significant cuts proposed in youth substance abuse and mental health programs.


2009 deficit: $943 million
2010 deficit: $856 million

• With plans for 10 percent to 15 percent reductions in state agencies across the board, “extremely painful” cuts in youth services are likely, according to the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

• Juvenile justice spending is vulnerable, especially community-based programs and prevention services.


2009 deficit: $350 million
2010 deficit: $450 million

• Voices for Utah Children fears cuts in the following areas: Medicaid for youth transitioning out of foster care; services to families and kids in foster care; family reunification services; and the closure of some courts, which the organization says would slow down an already taxed juvenile justice system.


2009 deficit: $53 million
2010 deficit: $218 million

• One proposal is a 4 percent across-the-board cut for every nonprofit that gets more than 50 percent of its funding from the state, which would significantly affect residential youth facilities.

• Proposed 1 percent reduction in funds to pay foster parents.


2009 deficit: $1.3 billion
2010 deficit: $2 billion

• Proposed cuts in funds for in-school psychologists and social workers.

• Proposed staff reduction in juvenile probation department.


2009 deficit: $413 million
2010 deficit: $3.1 billion

• Proposed cuts in secure crisis residential centers for at-risk youths. Five have closed and four more will be closed.

  • Randy Hatch

    The State of Tennessee does face a $1 Billion deficit but is engaged in spending projects that should not be a priority. For example the State of Tennessee is spending $22 million to construct a dance ballroom and underground bunker at the Governor’s Mansion. Also the State of Tennessee offered Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) $3 million to shoot a movie scene in Tennessee. Yet as the article in Youth Today indicated numerous juvenile justice programs with a proven track record face elimination.