N.D. plans to restore child abuse funding
North Dakota will contribute $800,000 to Cass County for child abuse and neglect assessment, money that officials earlier feared would be reduced. Cass County Social Services Director Kathy Hogan said a state official informed her Thursday that t...
North Dakota will contribute $800,000 to Cass County for child abuse and neglect assessment, money that officials earlier feared would be reduced.
Cass County Social Services Director Kathy Hogan said a state official informed her Thursday that the full amount was restored to Gov. John Hoeven's budget for July 2003-June 2005.
Previous budget guidelines called for the state Department of Human Services to cut 25 percent of the $800,000.
The bad news, Hogan said, is that the state is not increasing funds for child abuse and neglect assessment to offset inflation. That program has had only one inflationary adjustment in the last dozen years, Hogan said. At least there won't be any deep cuts, she said.
The $800,000 for abuse and neglect assessments represents only the state's portion. The full cost is $1.2 million, with the balance paid by the county.
Hogan was uncertain how the money got restored. "I think the Department of Human Services recognizes that protecting children is such a core service that we cannot jeopardize the safety of our most vulnerable children," she said. "I think the department made a really good decision.
"It's going to be a very, very difficult budget year. The places that they can cut are all going to hurt people," she said. "So it's a question of who's the most vulnerable."
The previous 25 percent cut was a major concern for county social service directors and county commissioners, Hogan said. "They either had to offset those losses with county property taxes or make service cuts," she said, and some counties didn't have enough resources to make up the cuts.
Cass County's 2003 budget increased the levy for social services by one mill and would have dipped into reserves to fund neglect and abuse assessments.
Those reserves now could be used to make up for deep cuts in other areas of the county's social services budget, Hogan said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541