On Tuesday, Santa Clara County officials will vote on a $6 million cut to the local Social Services Agency’s budget. Ironically, the person who decided on what services will be cut is the Agency’s Director Will Lightbourne. He calls the services being cut vital, noting that the most obvious cuts, the ones that will have the least impact on the county’s most vulnerable populations, “have been gone for a long time.”
The major cut will be a reduction of frontline social workers by just under half, from 48 to 27. This will affect foster care services, elderly adults who are unable to look after themselves, and public health nursing care. Among the responsibilities of these social workers are supervising family visits, enrolling foster children in schools, and performing drug tests on parents. While the immediate response among some sectors will be to step up donations and volunteerism, these social workers are also responsible for collecting donations of food and clothing.
What worries Lightbourne most is that the current cuts only address the shortfall for this fiscal year. He realizes that Governor Jerry Brown is planning to slash $12.5 billion from the next state budget, and what social services are certain to be hit hard. Particularly hard hit will be the existing welfare rolls—some 2,000 children in the county are expected to be dropped in the coming budget.
Yet even the current cuts are too much for County Supervisor George Shirakawa. “At a time when we should be alerting more people to the services that are out there, is this a time to be cutting them?” he asks.
Read More at The Mercury News.