MT Youth Mental Health and Foster Care Services Reeling From Cuts
In January, non-profits like Youth Dynamics, which provides assistance to youth with mental illness and facilitates placements for children in foster care, were hit with an across-the-board three percent cut on all services to children and families, while case management received a 58 percent reduction in reimbursements.
The cuts are part of Governor Steve Bullock’s efforts to scale back state spending and balance the budget. According to Youth Dynamics Clinical Director for Community Services Teri Jackson, those first cuts were tough, but bearable, but a new round of cuts is on the way.
"The governor has ordered these cuts and we're not sure there will be any stay of them or changes," Jackson said. "It will be moving forward March 1, with the rule changes that will be cutting some services, essentially, by two-thirds, so we're not sure those services will survive."
Jackson believes the state hasn’t looked close enough at the real cost of these cuts and says the state has "grossly under-projected" the impact.
"One thing that happened in these proposed rounds that is going on, is they just cut the money they didn't cut the requirements, or they didn't look at how they cut the money and we feel like they have been grossly under-projected. In looking at the numbers, there is a physical impact statement on every rule change that goes through the state of Montana, the numbers that they are proposing could be a number that would just be for our agency alone... and there are multiple agencies across Montana. "
Insiders are reporting that providers are closing their doors in towns across Montana and that layoffs are occurring in the social assistance industry. Montana Bureau of Labor and Industry Chief Economist Barbara Wagner says her staff has heard of the layoffs too, but that it hasn’t yet turned up in state data, which typically lags by three to six months.