Families served now by Family Connections will be decreased due to drastic budget cuts

Wanda English Burnett

According to information from Connie DeBurger, executive director of Family Connections, families will be impacted by budget cuts that were recently announced.

DeBurger noted that the Indiana Department of Child Services has announced that further cuts in the budget will impact funding for Family Connections. She said funding for the Healthy Families Indiana program was slashed from $42 million to $34 million already this year. It will drop to $27.9 million for the fiscal year 2011 and will spiral downward even more in 2012 to $24.7 million.

“It is not possible to continue the same caliber of services that we are used to providing with these types of deep cuts,” DeBurger noted. She said Family Connections will sustain a nearly 60% cut in funding from 2009 to 2012. “What really hurts is that we will have to decrease the number of families we can serve and with the current economy, these are families most in need of some assistance,” DeBurger said.

Director Jim Payne of the Department of Child Services released statistics showing that the Healthy Families program works. At a recent meeting of Healthy Families program managers, it was noted that participants of the program have higher rates of immunizations, well child check-ups, and fewer low birth weight births. Abuse rates for families enrolled in the program are less than one percent.

“We understand the need to reduce spending, but it is difficult to understand why programs that serve our more vulnerable populations receive the deepest cuts, especially when there is solid evidence these programs work,” DeBurger concluded.

The organization, based in Versailles, has a great outreach program and will continue to help as many families as they possibly can.