Friday, September 07, 2001

Butler lowers social-service spending

Contracts are with local groups

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — To save money, Butler County will eliminate funding for a program that mentors families and youths leaving welfare, and reduce funds for four other social-service programs.

        The cuts, which will save the county $547,000, were prompted by a reduction in state funding the county had used to pay the outside agencies or schools that run the programs.

        The biggest casualty is Side by Side, a mentoring program operated by MALACHI (Middletown-Monroe Adolescents Achieve). The county funding for this program will drop from $242,804 a year to zero.

        At a cost of $2,000 per participant, Side by Side is too expensive for a volunteer mentoring program, said Bruce Jewett, director of the Butler County Department of Job and Family Services.

        Anticipating the county's move, MALACHI's board two weeks ago decided to suspend the program beginning today, said Gene Leiter, vice chairman and co-founder of MALACHI. Five staff members will be laid off today, he said.

        MALACHI is trying to raise funds to salvage at least part of the program, Rev. Leiter said.

        Mr. Jewett and his staff recommended cutbacks in these five programs after reviewing 30 social-service programs the county has contracts for.

        “We tried to choose contracts that didn't provide direct services or that weren't effective enough,” he said Thursday.

        These other four social service programs will be reduced:

        • LifeSpan's Time money-management classes that teach basic money skills to help people stay off welfare. The county funding will decrease from $240,000 to $163,000. Consumer Credit, a division of LifeSpan that operates Time, is looking for additional funding.

        • Security and attendance monitoring at Hamilton City Schools' Rescue, an alternative school for suspended or expelled students. Funding drops from $160,000 to $80,000.

        The school district will be able to provide sufficient security for the Rescue program this school year, said Joani Kopas, spokeswoman for Hamilton City Schools.

        • SELF's asset-based community development program that trains low-income residents to mobilize to tackle community problems. SELF stands far Supports to Encourage Low-income Families. County funding will decrease from $100,000 to $50,000.

        SELF will look for alternative sources of funding, said Jeff Diver, the agency's executive director.

        • Butler County Education Services Center's Helpline, an information and referral service for low-income families. County funding will drop from $141,000 to $41,000.


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