Social Services Cuts

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

With the proposed budget cuts, Governor Tim Kaine is asking departments statewide to cut their budgets by a half a percent.

Back in the fall, the Social Services Department took a 15-percent cut because of the slumping economy. The Harrisonburg office's annual budget is $12 million. With all the services it offers, half a percent can make a large impact locally.

"We're trying very hard to build community services so that children who come into foster care can stay here. We're also trying very hard to build other services locally so children don't come into care. How can we support families and so forth, and so the 15-percent increase the first year and the ten-percent increase the second year in foster care rates was to help build our local foster families," says Donald Driver, the Director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Social Services.

In the governor's proposed budget cuts, five percent of that increase in foster care rates could be gone.

"I don't think it's going to put anyone too far back but certainly. I think every little bit helps when you're raising children. You're trying to provide, you know, a good standard of living for them and provide all the things we all want kids to have," says Julie Schroen, a foster home coordinator.

While foster parents receive monthly payments, Schroen says it's a very modest amount to cover basic costs of maintenance and room and board.

"Most people that become foster parents don't do it because of the money. It's about wanting to help children in the community, but I think everyone has to think practically too about what they can afford to do," says Schroen.

Social Services won't know until March if these proposed cuts will be at just the state level or will dip down into the local agencies. While the agency is still pleased that there will be some type of budget increase for foster parents, the cuts won't allow the programs to grow as much as they hoped. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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