State must seeking funding for programs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Adams County Families First Resource Center, the only one in the state connected to a youth court, saw 800 youth cases last year alone and worked to teach children about the consequences of their behavior while also teaching parenting skills.

But by the end of March, that center and 33 others in the state are scheduled to close because of a shortage in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds, according to the Department of Human Services.

This is a major cut in a major service throughout Mississippi, not just in Adams County.

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We’re curious whether DHS looked at other ways to cut back &045;&045; perhaps by spreading cuts around other programs served by TANF funding rather than cutting off the Families First programs entirely.

These programs offer the kind of services that families need to survive in challenging times. At the Adams County center, families receive counseling, youth are taught life skills, teen parents are taught parenting skills through the center. In all, it served almost 2,900 people last year.

We hear so much talk from politicians about the need for &uot;family values,&uot; but the fact of the matter is that many children are not getting that at home. Teaching their parents the skills needed to raise them with the right values &045;&045; and teaching them those values directly &045;&045; can have a lasting impact on our communities.

If the money isn’t there, why can’t DHS look for other sources of funding or cut back in other ways so that some of these programs can go on?

We urge those who have benefitted from these programs &045;&045; and those in a position to affect DHS funding, such as legislators &045;&045; to lobby the department to see if these centers can be saved.