BCCS is run mainly on its own local tax levy, which brings in $15.3 million annually plus state and federal funding. Chief Financial Officer Barb Fabelo budgeted $31 million in expenditures this year versus an estimated $26 million in revenues. The rest is covered by cash reserves, which she is estimating at around $17.4 million by year’s end.
She told the Journal-News since they never know moment to moment how many kids will be in their care, they have to budget to the “worst case scenario.”
“What we budget for is a moving target,” Fabelo said. “For example when we budget for contracts we budget for the highest level, at the contract level but we may not expend all of those dollars.”
Placement costs consume nearly half the budget at $14 million for this year. Fabelo said those costs include payments to foster parents, group homes, residential treatment centers and the like, but also expenses for food, clothing, day care and a host of other things.
The agency also contracts with community partners and services to offer families help so they can stay intact if at all possible. Shannon Glendon, newly promoted Children Services director said years of hard work has paid off.
“Many years ago we changed our practice in how we work with families in a way that allows us to engage and front load services with the goal of maintaining children safely in their own homes or with kinship,” Glendon said. “We have been diligent in that practice and we continue to provide programming that supports that practice.”
She listed programs like Family Preservation, which provides intense in-home interaction with families, and the Family Treatment Drug Court for those parents with substance abuse as examples.
Back when the pandemic started and stay-at-home orders were in place, the agency saw a 60.4% drop in calls from people reporting abuse and neglect because outside eyes weren’t on children. The agency had 372 children in custody as of May, 14, 2020.
Things are pretty much back normal now and Gilbert said she doesn’t believe the pandemic is affecting the low in-custody numbers.
“I think first of all it is always our goal to work with families and wrap services around them to avoid placing children in foster care on the front end of cases,” Gilbert said, “I also believe we can attribute this to reunifications. It’s important we’re not bringing kids into care but it’s also that we establish permanency for them as well and part of that is reunifying timely.”