Foster Children in the Face of Budget Cuts

By: Blaine Tolison Email
By: Blaine Tolison Email

Forclosures, job losses, and more in an economy that seems to be taking a nose dive. And that nose dive could crash right into the future of foster children. At the Children's Home Society of North Central Florida, Executive Director David Overstreet is weary of the times ahead.

Currently, his branch has not experienced an increase in child abuse cases, but according to Overstreet, the disheartening days have not yet begun in the Big Bend.

"Right now we have proposals on the table, both House and Senate that will reduce child welfare services 24 million plus dollars, for our area that means about 400-thousand dollars in reduced services for kids who are already in the child welfare system." said Overstreet.

In other parts of Florida, child abuse cases have increased and some social services officials blame a troubled economy for the influx. Overstreet says it could be a matter of time before their cases go up with less staff to compete with the surge. He said, "Those things continue to multiply and what you end up with is a very tragic situation."

For his staff who must face the tragedy, they say it's not easy to see children with no way out. Dina Nunez, who often works in the field with the Home Society said, "The kids come in and their scared and their seeing strangers and then it gets to the point where they get so used to being in foster care and moving from place to place, that they don't meet a stranger anymore and that's concerning."

The home society says less staff could mean a longer stay for children in foster care. The Children's Home Society of North Central Florida says if proposed cuts go through legislation, then it could affect the home society as early as July first.

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