Kids Hurt the Most during Budget Cuts
Last Thursday, the Children’s League of Massachusetts hosted a State House briefing on the effects of the state’s recent budget cuts on vulnerable children. The Children’s League is a non-profit statewide network of over 60 organizations, advocates, and consumers whose mission is to promote the well-being of children and their families through the effective use of the public policy system.
The purpose of the event was to educate state leaders and consumers about the effect recent budget cuts to the health and human services have on vulnerable children and at-risk youth and young adults. A new report,”Public Secrets: Silent Suffering – The State of Our Most Vulnerable Children,” highlights details of what the cuts have done. The report came on the heels of a survey that the group disseminated to its member organizations, advocates and families who depend on the services offered by the state through DCF, DYS, DMH, DEEC and DPH aimed at get a clearer picture of what the cuts are doing to children across the Commonwealth. The biggest concern: approximately 3,000 kids are no longer getting the services and care they need because the fiscal cuts have meant a cut in eligibility levels.
The speaking program was moving. Senator Bruce Tarr was acknowledged for this commitment to children of the Commonwealth. Representative Kay Khan, Chair of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities spoke about the possibility of moving money around in order to save children. As the grandmother of 7 young grandchildren, she also mentioned that this is a very important issue to her that she hopes advocates will often engage her in. Larry Fisher, a 21 year old street worker for the city of Boston and former foster care child, spoke about the impact cuts have had on his ability to do his job. As someone who works to place homeless teenagers in overnight shelters, he shared his hope that the state will prioritize children and work to find funding for programs that house homeless children so that he won’t be forced to call the police when shelters are closed. He emphasized the need for state to provide residential, financial and emotional stability to children and asked, “Don’t you think these kids have had enough cuts [to deal with]?”
Mary Ann Tufts, mother of Yolanda, the young lady for whom Chapter 321, last summer's children's mental health statute, is named for, also spoke. She shared her experience in dealing with state agencies to get appropriate care for her three adopted daughters who all suffered from mental illness and urged advocates to work together to “put a face on the cuts.” Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante closed the speaking portion by explaining that the House expects make about $3.5-$4 billion of cuts to the budget. She urged advocates and parents not to every think that they are bothering a legislator but to instead call and write to legislators about the issues that matter the most
The Children’s League requests that we all get involved in efforts to support children in need by asking for a restoration of funding for DCF to the original FY09 levels. For more information about the report or The Children’s League Campaign for Our Most Vulnerable Kids, please contact them at 617-695-1991.