It has been a difficult couple of weeks for our organization. For several years, the state has reimbursed us for our 24-hour care programs at a rate that does not cover the costs of care for children who come to us through court order.
Most of these children have experienced serious trauma in their lives including various types of abuse, neglect, and other emotional issues. The courts send them to us to salvage their lives, and to give them the care, treatment and education they need while they are here, with the goal of putting them on track for a happy and more balanced life.
Reaching the children now pays huge dividends for our society in the future.
Everyone in our organization cares for these children very much. They are not bad kids, they have experienced trauma that many of us can’t imagine. As a result, they can behave destructively toward themselves, others, and property. It takes a lot of resources and a variety of dedicated staff to provide for their needs.
It also costs nearly $140 per day for each child – for housing, food, hygiene, utilities, therapy, counseling, education, and more. During the current fiscal year, the state of Iowa is reimbursing Family Resources $98.97 per day.
Last year, we averaged 77 children per day in our 24-hour care programs. That’s a shortfall of more than $3,000 per day. Multiply that by 365 days, and it’s more than $1.1 million.
For years, we’ve tried to manage this through various cost-savings – hiring freezes, equipment that isn’t purchased, benefit cuts for staff and cost-reduction strategies.
We’ve done it for the children, but the situation has reached a point where we need to take a more difficult step.
By October first, we will transition approximately 35 children out of our 24-hour care programs, and will work with the courts and the Iowa Department of Human Services to find new placements for them.
Unfortunately, this also means a reduction in direct care and support staff – approximately 45 full-time employees and an undetermined number of part-time employees.
Last week, we met with supervisors and staff to discuss the situation with them. Even in the face of losing jobs, our staff reacted the way we would expect.
They are concerned for the children.
For years, we’ve been working with legislators and the Department of Human Services to raise the reimbursement rate. To date, we have not been successful.
Even as we transition 35 children from the programs and reduce our staff levels, there will still be around 50 children daily in our 24-hour care programs. We are making adjustments in our employee benefits and doing some restructuring throughout the organization to manage the continued cost issues. And we’ll continue to work with the state of Iowa to resolve the situation.
This has hit all of us hard. We care about the children, and we consider staff to be members of our family. In the past week, we’ve shared information about these important issues with our staff and stakeholders such as partner organizations, donors, and the community.
In the meantime, we continue to help clients on a variety of issues – domestic violence, behavioral and emotional health, sexual assault, alternative education, family restoration and more. We continue to be supported by generous donors in the community, and we will again serve around 35,000 women, children and men throughout Eastern Iowa and the Illinois Quad Cities this year.
Throughout our 160-year history, many changes have taken place. Times change, economies change, and a community’s needs change. As an organization, we adapt to changes with an eye toward the good of the community and the achievement of our mission – to strengthen children, individuals and families through quality programs that engage community resources and achieve positive solutions.
During the past week, we haven’t publicized some of the good things that keep happening about the work we do and the people we serve. We’ve been preoccupied. As we work through this difficult situation during the next couple of months, we will continue to share positive stories and other important information as we have been doing on these pages, on Facebook, and in our internal communications. They are stories that need to be told.
We appreciate the community’s concern and support, but more than our organization, it’s the children, women and families who need our support the most.