The Georgia Legislature approved a 2014 budget March 28 for the Department of Human Services that is an improvement over the governor’s 2014 budget proposal, but still leaves the needs of large numbers of Georgians unmet. The budget sustains the 20 percent cut to the department’s resources since 2009. It does not add child and adult protective service workers and social service eligibility workers, although they are coping with historically high caseloads.
Here are some substantial changes made by legislators:
- The budget the Legislature sent to the governor’s desk cuts $264,436 from the Elder Abuse Investigations and Prevention Program. The governor proposed cutting 17 family service workers from Adult Protective Services to eliminate spending $528, 871. The Legislature restored half of the planned cut, which could pay for some of the workers to continue to serve the neediest elderly Georgians most at risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect.
- The Legislature restored $484,559 for Elder Community Living Services that was cut in the governor’s budget. Funding the program avoids eliminating tens of thousands of hours of Alzheimer’s and Respite Care services directly supporting elderly Georgians.
- The Legislature added $4.8 million to the budget for Out of Home Care, or foster care, so organizations and people who provide temporary homes to neglected, abused or abandoned children can be reimbursed at higher rates.
Though these small changes are an improvement over the governor’s 2014 budget proposal, they represent only temporary stopgaps to a budget straining to meet the growing needs of some of the most vulnerable people in Georgia.
For the department to fulfill its vision of “stronger families for a stronger Georgia,” it will need more child and adult protective service workers, new and innovative job training programs, as well as work supports for more low-income Georgians.