DHS right to give centers a reprieve

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

Talk about an emotional roller coaster. After they had packed up the office and held a going away party, employees at Adams County’s Families First Resource Center found out they had enough money to continue operating for six months.

In fact, the Department of Human Services has extended the life of all of the state’s resource centers for at least half a year.

But is this a change of heart or a temporary reprieve?

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Don Taylor, executive director of the state Department of Human Services, said $3.4 million is being provided by the Healthy Mississippi Initiative, funded by the state’s tobacco litigation settlement. The centers were to close in March. Taylor said he hopes to find more money beyond Sept. 30, the date centers would close once the new money runs out.

Families First provides objective parenting classes to help parents work with delinquent children, youth education courses on everything from education to shoplifting classes and a tutoring program to improve academic performance.

These programs are a valuable &045;&045; even essential &045;&045; complement to the work done by Adams County Youth Court. In today’s society, at-risk children and families need all the help they can get to survive and flourish.

We hope the state will continue to look hard for money to fund these centers. We understand the need for budget cuts in tough economic times, but these programs are too valuable to eliminate in one fell swoop.

We’re glad DHS found the money to give these centers a new (temporary) lease on life and encourage center directors to seek new funding on their own, as well, in the event state money can’t be found.