State Policy and Budget Affects Social Services for Children

State Policy and Budget Affects Social Services for Children

(article from the Fall 2015 Newsletter)

Thriving in the Age of Rescissions

Written by Richard D. Calvert, MSW, LCSW

It is not news to anyone that Connecticut’s economy continues to struggle, and that the impact is an ongoing decline in several areas of the State subsidy grant funding that is critical to most Child and Family Agency programs.  With the agency still reeling from and fine tuning how it will cope with the major damage done by the State budget passed just back in June, most significantly including a 10.5% reduction in funding to its School-Based Health Centers, we’re scurrying yet again to determine whether a brand new round of rescissions, announced on the day I am writing this, will have a major impact on any of our programs.

While our first-pass analysis indicates we’ve probably survived unscathed . . . this time . . ., we live, work and serve our clients in the Age of Rescissions, a period in which what one has in contracted budgets at the start of a fiscal year is most likely not what one will end up with; and so we know that another round of cuts in State funding is likely within the next few months, and that most of our programs will be impacted sooner or later.

So how do we survive and even thrive in the Age of Rescissions, ensuring Child and Family Agency’s ability to meet its mission in ever more effective and far-reaching ways?  We actually have answers, some sobering, some energizing, and you can help!

  • After years of maximizing the art and skills of doing more with less, we’re now at the point of determining where we must do less with less. This means thoughtfully reducing program size where we must in order to ensure the continuation of high quality work and retention of experienced staff, both critical to serving our clients well.
  • Child and Family Agency is making ever-increasing use of evidence-based practice so that our clients can experience hoped-for improvements in their lives within efficient time frames. CFA was ahead of Connecticut’s wave of focusing on Results-Based Accountability and so, beyond tracking how much of each service we’re providing, we’re well focused on determining the degree to which our clients are actually better off.
  • CFA continues to be well-positioned to respond to funding opportunities that continue to be rolled out even as other programs are trimmed or eliminated. The agency’s breadth and depth of expertise in areas such as trauma-informed work, preventive health care, early childhood development and prosocial programming, school readiness, and intensive in-home treatment have led to the agency’s success in competing for new grant awards from Connecticut’s various departments.
  • A culture of caring is deeply embedded throughout CFA’s service delivery and work environment. As daily, living evidence of our 1809 roots, embodied to this day not only in staff work but also in the perennial volunteer efforts of our 650+ auxiliary and board members, our clients experience services that are truly respectful and strength-based, and our staff mutually contribute to supporting each other in an “all in” fully invested manner.  As a third facet of agency culture, our services are effective, which in and of itself is energizing.  We are fortunate that a result of this service culture “trifecta” is that experienced staff tend to stay, ensuring quality and continuity, when, in an ever more competitive recruitment-and-retention environment, many could leave for higher pay elsewhere.

Here is how you can help!

  • Give of your time. While the confidential nature of our counseling programs preclude certain types of volunteer activities, our early childhood and after-school programs provide deeply satisfying and impactful opportunities to help a child.
  • Donate to Child and Family Agency’s Annual Fund and its Endowment Campaign, and attend our auxiliaries’ wonderful fundraising events. Several areas of CFA’s restricted grant funding are shrinking or in jeopardy, making unrestricted donated dollars, both short term and building toward the future, ever more critical. Click here to donate.
  • Add your voice to our legislative advocacy efforts. Legislators are used to hearing from private non-profit service agencies regarding funding needs, but are usually far more impressed by messages of concern from private constituents.  CFA’s web site is kept up to date with core topical information and linkages to your legislators, making it easy to be timely and “on message”.

Together we can thrive in the Age of Rescissions!