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Each year this column has attempted to highlight positives by listing “The 10 Reasons To Be Optimistic” about this coming year. This task has only gotten more difficult the last two years. So, we’re interested in your thoughts and hope you will share your “Reasons To Be Optimistic About 2011.”
Just email them to or fax to (404) 657-7094. We will publish sometime around Christmas or Jan. 1 or only after we generate 10 good reasons.

Department of Human Services-budget information
In FY2011, the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) received an appropriation totaling over $1.87 billion. Of these funds, nearly 72 percent ($1.34 billion) were federal funds, 2 percent ($45 million) were agency funds, and the remaining 26 percent were state funds ($476 million in state general funds, $6 million in tobacco settlement funds). The total state funds appropriated to DHS in FY11 were 7 percent less than the amount of state funds appropriated in FY10. 
The total state funds reduction being proposed by the department at the highest cut percentages for the amended FY11 and FY12 budgets is $35.6 million and $44.5 million, respectively. The department is proposing to achieve the majority of its reduction targets through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) related changes and by reductions to its Room, Board, and Watchful Oversight (RBWO) program. 

RBWO providers essentially offer residential treatment services for children with behavioral issues. DHS is proposing reductions based both on projected lower utilization of the RBWO services, and on reduced rates (4 percent-8 percent cut) for RBWO providers. The total savings from these reductions is expected to be worth up to $11.9 million at the 8 percent level in FY11 and up to $12.7 million at the 10 percent level in FY12. 

For both fiscal years, at the highest cut scenarios, DHS recommended shifting over $14.9 in state funding to TANF funding. This was done to avoid cutting important services in programs like Child Care Licensing and Family Violence Service, while saving state dollars. One of the potential consequences however, is that the loss of these state dollars will cause DHS to fall below its TANF Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements. States who receive TANF are required to maintain a minimum level of spending on TANF programs, and can utilize by state and private funding to meet these MOE requirements. If DHS’ shifting of state dollars to TANF funding is approved, there would need to be a concerted effort to find more private TANF-eligible spending in order to maintain MOE.
The level of cuts in the 8-10 percent range coming on top of a real 20 percent cut over the past two budgets will undoubtedly lead to service reductions as well as provider decreases. There will be a face on these cuts.

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