The Department of Child Services again asked state lawmakers Thursday to increase its funding by nearly $300 million per year.
But there isn’t consensus among legislative leaders as to whether DCS will get that much.
DCS officials have said for months the agency needs $286 million more per year than it got in the last budget. That figure matches what DCS is currently spending after state leaders shifted dollars over the last couple of years to meet a huge uptick in cases.
But things are getting better. Caseloads are down about 15 perecent over the last year; case manager turnover decreased about 27 percent in that period. And that has Senate Appropriations Chair Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) wondering if DCS needs as much as it’s asking for.
“I mean, we have ‘til April to kind of figure out where they need to be," Mishler says. "So, I think $286 [million] is a starting point.”
DCS Director Terry Stigdon stresses it’s too soon to say the agency’s problems are all solved.
“The number of case managers, the number of children in care – we know that that’s changing every day,” Stigdon says.
Senate Republicans will unveil their budget proposal in the coming weeks.