Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ionia County Commissioners Vote to Fund Strong Families/Safe Children

The Ionia County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously "to spend up to $20,000 on a complex family services program designed to keep troubled families together." The Ionia Sentinel-Standard reports that Community Mental Health stopped funding the Strong Families/Safe Children program July 1, due to budget problems.

The County will provide $5000 to make up the current budget shortfall, and will pay $15,000 toward next year's program costs.

The program provides services, through as many as nine agencies, to families at risk in order to keep them intact. From the DHS website:

"State legislative intent is focused primarily on the reduction of out-of-home placement numbers. This coincides with the federal intent of funds to keep children safe in their own homes, prevent the unnecessary separation of families, return children in care to their families sooner, and to find permanent alternatives for children who cannot return home safely."

Commissioners understood the cost effective nature of the program, comparing the county's contribution to the cost of foster care or annual expense of providing for a prison inmate.

Helping children and families makes sense. It is good public policy. It is fiscally responsible and provides longterm benefits to families and communities in which they live. The Ionia County commissioners could see this. Their sense of "we" included the least among them.
Kudos to those commissioners.