The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) heard a presentation today from Michelle Britton, Administrator of the Family and Community Services department of Idaho Health and Welfare.
Her presentation and handouts outlined the areas her department focuses on, namely foster care for children and state sponsored public adoption.
She presented multiple data sheets showing the effects of budget reductions at Health and Welfare. Britton attempted to expound the effects of the growing costs of doing business with FY ’09 expenses at $2.4 million for all funds and at $3.7 million in FY ’10.
The committee was less interested in the effectiveness of her organization and more concerned with the amount of money the state gives families who adopt children from Idaho State agencies. Rep. George Eskridge of Dover asked if the handouts encourage families to adopt many children in order to make money.
Britton explained the funds given to adoptive families are roughly $300 per month, saying the practice was unlikely, considering the fees involved with adoption. She attempted to reaffirm that cutting from Health and Welfare now will cost more money in the future.
“When we hit hard times financially, we dig a hole that’s expensive to get out of,” said Britton.
Britton said that foster care entry numbers have shrunk from 1,577 in 2007 to 1,279 in 2009. She attributes this decline to the success of Idaho’s Meth Project, which helps keep children out of the Health and Welfare system.