Child Agencies Warn Against Budget Cuts

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Private agencies in Kentucky providing care to abused and neglected children in state custody are warning of the devastating effects of state budget cuts.

Right now, there are more than 7,000 children in foster care in Kentucky. Half are in the care of private agencies. But Governor Beshear’s budget-balancing plan is slashing funding to the agencies by $4.5 million. That will also result in a loss of $3 million in federal funding. It’s too much, says Ralph Risimini of St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Louisville.

“We’re down to the point where there isn’t any fat. The fat went away a year and a half ago. Now, were getting down to muscle and we’re getting awful close to bone,” Risimini told lawmakers Monday.

With the 2009 legislative session resuming in Frankfort, the agencies want Kentucky lawmakers to restore their funding. But it’s a tall order, because lawmakers are trying to fill a $459 million hole in the state budget.