Falk’s Human Services Budget Increases Dollars to Seniors, People with Disabilities, and Services for People with Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Problems
September 29, 2004
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and County Board Supervisors today announced that her proposed 2005 county budget will include about $1 million more for children, older citizens, people with disabilities, and public health in Dane County. The package is in addition to the increase of about $4 million in human services spending proposed in staff’s recommended 2005 budget.
“We have the best human services program in the state. This budget continues that high standard of serving our citizens,” said Falk.
Falk credited a number of County Board members for their constructive cooperation and advocacy. “I give huge credit to their leadership on these important issues,” said Falk.
Supervisor Scott McDonell said, “We engaged in tough but respectful discussions to accomplish these key funding decisions.”
Supervisor Beth Gross said, “I am delighted to hear that this budget will preserve some of Dane County’s most valuable human services. The County Executive has demonstrated her willingess to listen to our neediest citizens, and I look forward to working with her and my colleagues in the coming weeks.”
Supervisor John Hendrick said, "Considering the many pressures on the county budget this package is a good compromise and deserves support. Several improvements will benefit working families, especially the wage initiative for workers at purchase of service agencies."
Supervisor Dave Worzala said, “I am pleased that the budget proposed by the County Executive includes the high school graduates with developmental disabilities and the brain injury waiver funds. I look forward to working with the County Board to pass the county budget.”
Falk’s budget will add:
High school graduates with developmental disabilities will receive vocational and other supportive services as they leave the school system at age 21. At hearings on the human services budget earlier this month, parents provided compelling testimony on the importance of these services for their adult children. Dane County is the only Wisconsin county currently to provide this seamless transition of services for young adults; it will continue to do so in 2005.
Falk’s budget will also include dollars to immediately serve the handful of adults who sustain a serious, permanent brain injury during the year from such things as vehicle accidents.
The impact for both these is $115,000 additional dollars for these services.
Drug Court and halfway houses see funding restored. Dane County recently received news that the federal dollars that helped fund the successful drug court will be reduced by about $100,000 from prior years. Also, the Human Services department had proposed about a $350,000 reduction in several specific alcohol / drug abuse services (out of about $6 million in AODA funded services). Working with Catholic Charities, which runs both the halfway houses and the Pathfinders Program, the halfway houses are restored and the drug court is fully funded; the Pathfinders program is revised. In addition, the “Fatherhood Program” successfully run by the Urban League will be increased by $33,000.
Elder abuse services are strengthened by hiring a full time elder abuse investigator (social worker) to investigate reports of physical, mental and financial abuse of elderly residents. The budget will also increase the mileage reimbursement for Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers who deliver meals-on-wheels to senior citizens and take people to appointments ($9,800). Finally, there are several key staff positions restored in the Badger Prairie Health Care Center, which cares for about 110 of Dane County’s frailest citizens.
In an effort to strengthen the 200 Purchase of Service (POS) agencies whose employees are on the front lines in providing county-funded services to disabled citizens, children, and the elderly, the budget will allocate an additional $410,000 to fund wage increases. This funding will allow POS agencies to provide a 1% cost of living adjustment (COLA) wage increase to workers who earn just above the county living wage. (This is in addition to the $250,000 in the budget targeted to POS agencies to fund their compliance with the living wage ordinance that brings the hourly wage for the lowest paid workers to $9.07 per hour (a 22 cent per hour increase over 2004).)
The Human Services budget covers services to the elderly, adults and children with disabilities and mental illness, economic and work services for low-income families, the Badger Prairie Health Care Center, and Public Health.
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Sharyn Wisniewski, (608) 267-8823