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Agency that helps kids at risk lays off 21 workers

Citizen Staff Photographer



Tucson children at risk of being neglected, abused and ending up in foster care will feel the impact of state budget cuts after Child & Family Resources was forced this week to lay off social workers who help keep families together.

The agency laid off 21 of its Tucson employees, about one-fourth of its staff, after losing $7 million in funding from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, said Colleen Bagnall, development director for Child & Family Resources.

DES announced the cuts in programs after the Legislature slashed its current fiscal year budget.

Child & Family Resources, 2800 E. Broadway, serves 38,000 children and families statewide.

“We’re very concerned that these cuts . . . mean more children will end up in foster care, and child abuse and neglect will increase,” said Eric Schindler, agency president and CEO.

Because of the DES cuts, the nonprofit agency that contracts with the state to provide services to families was forced to cut its Healthy Families program by 75 percent and other in-home service programs by 50 percent, Schindler said.

Healthy Families provides services to families with children from birth to age 5 who are at risk for neglect and abuse. About 85 percent of parents in the program experienced abuse or neglect in their childhood, and the program helps break the cycle, Schindler said.

In-home service programs provide education and support to families with children of all ages, most of whom are involved with Arizona’s Child Protective Services. The programs aim to keep children in the home and out of foster care.

The programs help families develop anger management and basic parenting skills; offer information on child development and coping with stress; and connect parents with substance abuse treatment resources.

Schindler estimated the cuts will impact about 700 Tucson families and about 3,000 in the state.

He believes the state made the cuts “on the backs of the most vulnerable children and families.”

“This did not need to happen,” he said. “Experts in the field believe the money saved here is an illusion in that it will cost the state more in the long term. Keeping a child in foster care or incarcerated in juvenile corrections is 10 times more costly than these services.”

The programs work, Schindler said. “Ninety-five percent of families we work with stay out of foster care.”

Budget cuts force Child & Family Resources to lay off 21 social workers

Maxine Acevedo, 35, has spent six years helping vulnerable Tucson families as a family support specialist at Child & Family Resources.

Now this single mother with three sons is in need of help herself after losing her job this week.

She worries about the families that need help the most. “A lot of kids will go into CPS care,” Acevedo said.

She’s worried parents will abuse and neglect their children without the services Child & Family Resources provided.

“The more stress on the parents, sometimes it gets taken out on the kids,” she said.

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