It's looking very likely that the Senate will pass the proposed budget cuts to Child Welfare funding, part of the $1 billion budget cut proposed and passed by the House last week.
So just what does a $13.6 million reduction mean for Minnesota's Child Welfare system? There are a few ways to look at this. Below is a basic overview of how the MN system is funded, giving us a few different perspectives on this proposed change. I invite you to comment about how you think the proposed cuts could impact services to children and their families.
Here's a visual of 2009 Child Welfare system funds in Minnesota:
Casey Family Programs provides a recent, brief overview of the national picture of CW funding. Take a glance here, it's a helpful context for our MN debate. For MN specific details, take a look at this breakdown.
How does MN compare? We're the second lowest contributor when it comes to the share of state dollars. MN state dollars comprised just 17% of all Child Welfare funds in the state in 2006 (2007 Casey Child Welfare Financing Survey). In 2009, state dollars were just 15% of the total CW funds in MN.
So, the proposed reduction is 21% of the state's contribution. Cut 21% off of 15%, and you get a reduction of about 3% of total CW funds. 3% seems like a small slice of the total budget, right?
Then consider that counties pay 49% of our Child Welfare budget. The state supports counties through Local Government Aid, or LGA. CCSA may be cut by 21%, leaving counties to make up the difference. But LGA is also slated to be reduced by over $450 million in the same bill that cuts CCSA. Adding additional budget strain for counties providing CW services.
The CCSA reduction starts to look more significant in the context of the proposed LGA reductions. It's hard to quantify, though, because each county makes their own choices about how they will adjust programs and services in response to the budget reductions.
It's also important to note that the cut, 21% of CCSA and about 3% of total Child Welfare funds, isn't spread evenly across the systems of Child Protection, Foster Care and Adoption. CCSA dollars primarily support Child Protection services, so this cut will rest on the shoulders of Child Protection programs.
Last year, similar reductions in allocations were approved. However, these were approved as one-time reductions at a point in time when federal stimulus funding flowed into the state to soften the impact of the cuts. HF130 and SF 60 propose permanent reductions without alternative sources of funding. Rep. Abeler and Senator Robling both made amendments to their bills in response to this concern.
How do you see the proposed reductions? What do you think the impact might be? If you're not supportive of this budget solution, what alternatives do you propose? Please feel free to comment here and voice your opinion to your legislators.