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"In light of the current budget situation, DCFS has worked hard to reduce costs and streamline services, while maintaining core services that are vital to the needs of Louisiana families and children," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "Our staff has led the effort in providing services to clients more efficiently, while at the same time increasing productivity."
Over the past year, DCFS has reorganized itself into a more efficient agency that is working to keep children safe, help individuals and families become self-sufficient and provide safe refuge during disasters, while at the same time reducing costs, consolidating offices and reducing staffing levels by 20 percent.
Additionally, DCFS has created online applications for public assistance programs, reducing the need for clients to come to an office in order to apply for services.
During this period of cost savings, DCFS improved the accuracy and timeliness of food stamp applications and increased child support collections. DCFS also rose from ninth to second place nationally in timely adoptions of foster children.
Over the past three years, DCFS has reduced the number of children in foster care by more than 700. Over the past two years, the agency reduced the population of foster children placed in residential care more than 300 children, or 10 percent. On June 30, 2010, just 6.7 percent of foster children lived in residential care.
DCFS is taking ground-breaking steps to improve access to services while reducing overhead costs by working with community-based organizations like churches and non-profits. DCFS clients can now pick up applications, receive information about programs and, in some cases, receive assistance with applying for services at more than 100 community partner sites.
In identifying savings, DCFS is realigning resources, providing less restrictive placement of youth while maintaining the current level of treatment and freezing the hiring of positions.
Reductions in state general funds (SGF) identified to cover the reduction include:
$7.99 million - This reduction related to the Child Care Development Block Grant will be achieved by utilizing the State School Readiness Tax Credit rather than state general funds to continue to draw down federal block grant funding. The School Readiness Tax Credit allows tax breaks to families, child care providers, child care directors and staff, and businesses that support child care participation in the state's child care quality rating program.
$1.68 million - The department continues efforts to place children in the least restrictive environment which is more cost effective and ensures better outcomes, while maintaining the same level of care. DCFS provides increased supports, including existing family and community services, to provide the additional care that these children need either in less restrictive residential placements or in family foster care settings.
$1.5 million - Replace state general funds with federal funds for Alternative to Abortions program, which provides information, counseling, and support services to assist women to choose childbirth and to make informed decisions regarding the choice of adoption or parenting.
$531,703 - Department-wide hiring freeze of 56 positions. The loss of these positions will be taken into consideration in FY 12 in accordance with Act 877 that was passed during the 2010 legislative session that reorganizes the Department of Children and Family Services.
The overall budget for DCFS is approximately $1 billion dollars, with the majority being federal funding. As of September 30, 19 percent, or $186 million, of DCFS' overall budget comes from state general funds.