Monday, April 30, 2012
Increasing Need Battles Missouri Budget Cuts
“Missouri may slash children’s services” read the headline of an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on April 16. The article, by Nancy Cambria, detailed the fact that lawmakers want to cut nearly $13.6 million from the state foster care budget, at the same time more and more children are entering the foster care system. Last year, 15,738 children were in state custody at some point in the year.
Read the full article at stltoday.com
Bess Wilfong, Founder and Executive Director of Angels’ Arms, is well aware of the difficulties facing foster parents and foster children. She was appalled to learn that funding to this underfunded system may be cut even further. Her response, “It got worse,” was printed in the Post Dispatch on April 22. This is the text of Bess’ letter to the editor:
It got worse
Regarding "Missouri may slash children's services" (April 16): Again, Missourians are hearing all about the state budget woes and cuts are pending that will affect "our" children, particularly those who are already not being cared for at home and who need attention on many levels.
It's time for everyone to realize that the children who come into the state's care for whatever reason require extreme care: a loving and safe home, clothing, medical attention, meals, proper hygiene, good schools, life skills and opportunities that contribute to their feeling wanted so that they can learn to function (dare I say thrive) in this world.
The foster parents who open their homes and their hearts face heartbreaking situations and decisions every day, and their rights are limited in most areas. Now, decisions are being made that would increase foster child caseloads and would eliminate the "discretionary fund" that is used to supplement foster care, groups homes and adoption subsidies — a fund some are calling a slush fund.
Some of us thought it couldn't get any worse; it is. We're asking the people on the front lines saving "our" kids every day to make even more sacrifices.
When will Missouri lawmakers take a stand for "our" children and stop allowing cut after cut to a system that's already underfunded and overburdened? When will we all realize that Missouri ranks 48th in the entire country for foster care support?
Bess Wilfong • St. Louis
Founder and Executive Director, Angels' Arms
Note: Angels’ Arms receives no state or federal funding but strives to provide homes and support for foster families and sibling groups through generous donations, numerous fundraisers and grants. However, the Missouri budget cut will impact all children in the foster care system and the foster parents who care for them.