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Social service funding dries up

The Department of Human Services will end contracts with 41 organizations to relieve a $116 million deficit

By Kristen Consillio

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:47 a.m. HST, Feb 04, 2011


Social service programs for the state's most needy population will terminate on April 1 to save the Department of Human Services $84 million over the next two years and three months.

The department is facing a $116 million budget deficit and will eliminate funding for 41 children, youth and family programs such as Read Aloud America, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Institute for Human Services.

Patricia McManaman, interim human services director, said the department decided to cut funding for the services under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program so it could keep intact job training and welfare programs.

"We made a decision to support our families through direct cash assistance and to make sure they receive needed and important services that will make them job-ready and able to engage in the community to become self-supporting and self-sufficient," she said. "Those were our priorities.

"Many of the contracts that have been eliminated are going to impact the nonprofits in our community and the people they serve. We don't have plans to restore these programs."

The state's shortfall for Medicaid is about $57.5 million and $58.8 million for the TANF program due to significant increases in enrollment by individuals and families affected by the economy. The department is seeking emergency appropriations for the deficit.

The social service cuts will save the department $8.4 million in the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30 and $38 million in each of the next two fiscal years. The Human Services Department also is bringing currently contracted services in-house for additional savings, McManaman said.

"We're asking for (money) in emergency appropriations ... just to make it through the rest of the year, so it's pretty dire," said Toni Schwartz, human services spokeswoman.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie alluded to the cuts last month in his State of the State address. McManaman said the Human Services Department does not anticipate further reductions to programs or contracts this fiscal year.

Taking the biggest hit — $6.2 million — is the department's Social Services Division's positive youth development and family strengthening program.

Women in Need, a nonprofit providing programs for recovering drug addicts and formerly incarcerated residents, will have to terminate half of its 14-member staff when it loses its $300,000 contract, which was set to expire Oct. 30, said Executive Director Mary Scott-Lau, who was notified about the cuts at a meeting on Wednesday.

"What was shocking to all of us is that most of our contracts go through a much later date," she said. "It's many organizations' primary funder. Most of the funding is going to cut staff at the different organizations, and it will cut many programs."

Marisa Kanahele, 27, a recovering drug addict who has lived in a transitional home run by Women in Need since July, said she would be devastated if counseling and support services were to end just as she regains custody of her two young children from Child Protective Services.

"My counselors, they help me emotionally," she said. "That's very important being a recovering addict. You can have your good days, and you can have your bad days. These are services I need to get my kids back."

Read Aloud America, the state's largest family literacy program, will lose $1.4 million, or 95 percent of its budget, when funding comes to an end, said its president and founder, Jed Gaines.

The program reached more than 49,000 adults and children last year and was scheduled to be funded through 2016. The agency has a dozen full-time employees and more than 1,200 volunteers.

"It would be devastating to the organization to not be able to continue to operate after 12 successful years," Gaines said. "We hope the community and especially the governor and his team will take a very, very careful look at Read Aloud America's program."

The Human Services Department started using TANF federal grant money in 2005 to pay social service provider contracts, which most recently was supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus funds, which have run out.

"I don't think that we as a society really understand yet what the long-term effects of having frayed and having cut so many essential services, how deep of an impact it is going to have on our society," said Alex Santiago, executive director of Phocused, a consortium of local health and human service agencies. "These prevention programs are in place so that we don't have more, worse problems later on."

Cut off

The Department of Human Services will terminate 41 contracts by March 31. These are the top 10 contracts and their amounts:
» Department of Human Services Social Services Division, positive youth development and family strengthening, $6.2 million
» Department of Defense, About Face program, $3.5 million
» Department of Defense, teen pregnancy prevention, $1.9 million
» Partners in Development Foundation, Family Literacy Thru Tutu and Me, $1.4 million
» Read Aloud America, $1.4 million
» Department of Defense, Forward March program, $880,000
» Department of Human Services Social Services Division, domestic violence shelter services, $616,000
» State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, arts and cultural education to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies, $550,000
» Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, employment core services for low-income populations, $500,000
» Department of Human Services Social Services Division, family strengthening services, $440,000

Programs losing funds

Aside from the top 10 contracts, the Department of Human Services will terminate 31 others by March 31. Here is a list of the remaining contracts to be cut off and their amounts:

» The Institute for Family Enrichment, parenting skills and resource management training, $440,000
» Partners in Development Foundation, family literacy program, Maui, $366,600
» Office of Youth Services, $352,000
» Women in Need, $300,000
» Parents and Children Together, pregnancy prevention, $199,301
» Susannah Wesley Community Center, teen pregnancy prevention, $163,699
» Susannah Wesley Community Center, home-based parenting and family counseling, $132,000
» University of Hawaii, Maui dental services for temporary assistance for needy families, $132,000
» Big Brothers Big Sisters, $132,000
» Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development, $125,000
» Kokua Kalihi Valley, teen pregnancy prevention, $121,000
» Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island, $90,000
» Institute for Human Services, West Hawaii, $90,000
» Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, positive youth development (robotics), $88,000
» Kualoa-Heeia Ecumenical Youth Project, employment skills, $88,000
» State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, arts and cultural education to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies, $88,000
» Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, $75,000
» Girl Scouts of Hawaii, $75,000
» Girl Scouts of Hawaii (Kauai), $75,000
» Hale Opio Kauai, $75,000
» Kualoa-Heeia Ecumenical Youth (Key) Project, $75,000
» Parents and Children Together, $75,000
» Planned Parenthood, $75,000
» Institute for Human Services, Central Oahu, $75,000
» Hui Malama Learning Center, $73,000
» Maui Youth and Family Services, $73,000
» The Catalyst Group, evaluation of Ke Kama Pono Safe House, $73,000
» Maui Economic Concerns of the Community, $64,000
» Department of Education, teen pregnancy prevention program, $58,337
» Hawaii State Commission on Fatherhood, $44,000
» Department of Education, teen pregnancy prevention program, $19,448






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