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Fewer services now mean more trauma and more need for services in the future

As nonprofits absorb cuts, Adam Shipman, director of advocacy and education for Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW), calls for people of faith and all people in communities to recognize the critical value of social services to the health and wellbeing of their communities.

He said budget cuts for many nonprofit services will increase the need for crisis services by those traumatized by crime and sexual assault.

People coming now face multiple issues because of a lack of other services, Adam said.

LCSNW, as other nonprofits, has had to lay off some staff and needs more work from fewer people for less money.  While that creates stress for staff and management, he said, it’s needed to keep programs viable and maintain client services.

“Doing more with less in human services is less feasible than in other work,” he said.  “Staff need to be at their best when they respond to more demanding needs and have more clients to see.

“If children’s mental health issues are not treated when they experience a trauma, they may face more difficulties, requiring more expensive services in the future,” he explained.

With less federal, state and local funding, LCSNW seeks more donations but knows donors are affected by the economy and have less money to give, he said.

His glass-half-full side sees the current climate as part of a cycle that will recover.  His glass-half-empty side knows the cuts may be just the tip of an iceberg of cuts in social services.

“It may get worse before it gets better,” Adam said.  “Human services, particularly crisis services, are important to any community.  I hope the community continues to invest in a safety net.”

Services at LSCNW, which was started in Spokane in 1956 to provide foster care, now include adoption/foster care, advocacy, alcohol/drug treatment, community education, crisis intervention, disaster response, employee assistance, family support, mental health counseling, parent education, refugee resettlement, senior outreach, violence prevention and counseling, volunteer services and youth asset development.

Volunteers help with fund raising and a 24-hour crisis line.

Dennis McGaughy, executive director of LCSNW, said that 6.3 percent in state cuts now will be followed by more cuts to social services in the spring, because there are fewer sales to generate sales tax funds, the candy and bottled water tax was voted down, and the Children’s Initiative was defeated.

He hopes holiday shopping will generate more sales taxes and help ease the cuts.

Aware that as they and others have had to cut some staff, Dennis, who has been with LCSNW for 20 years, said more people are slipping into poverty.  He is concerned because sometimes unemployment creates problems with abuse.

“Income at our annual October luncheon was generous but down from last year, because of the recession,” reported Dennis.

During the spring, he said they will focus on building support through fund raisers, grants and partnership with Catholic Charities on programs to keep overhead to a minimum.  Recently LCSNW and Catholic Charities co-sponsored workshops for clergy on issues veterans face. 

Federal and state dollars are 80 percent of the LCSNW budget, because “we are an important player in providing community services with minimum overhead,” said Dennis.

For information, call 353-5057 or email ashipman@lcsnw.com.

 

Cuts leave more homeless in Idaho

Nearly 150 sleeping bags and blankets donated to warming centers in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in November were gone in a week, said Matt Hutchinson, social services director of St. Vincent de Paul.

“We need blankets, sleeping bags, coats, gloves and stocking hats,” he said.

The centers at 117 Walnut in Coeur d’Alene and 202 W. 7th in Post Falls shelter people overnight when temperatures are below 15 degrees.  In the day, homeless people sleeping there go to the library, Fresh Start or the Help Center, which houses 15 agencies.

Cuts in Emergency Shelter Grants in favor of the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program cuts out homeless people who cannot stabilize themselves—domestic violence victims and people struggling with mental illness and addictions, he said.

St. Vincent de Paul’s houses 12 in its men’s shelter and 12 to 15 in its women’s shelter, and turns away 10 to 20 people a week.

For information, call 208-664-3095.

 

Red-kettle gifts cover needs

The Salvation Army is seeing more desperation and more families—mothers, fathers and children—in its family emergency shelter program, said Shelley Hartmann, program manager.

“More are having difficulty finding jobs before their 90 days at the shelter are up,” she said.

Some will be among the 157 bell ringers who work temporarily doing that seasonal job.

The money collected by bell ringers in the red kettles outside stores in December helps fund Salvation Army programs all year, as needed, said Heather Byrd, director of development and communication.

“We are concerned how government and other cuts will affect service,” said Shelley.  “Other than seasonal workers at the youth center, we have not laid off staff.”

For information, call 329-2761 or visit www.salvationarmyspokane.org.