LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday said a $10.9 million Department of Human Services budget cut could occur if Arkansas Works (Medicaid expansion) isn’t passed.
The move would see about 255 DHS jobs cut, he said.
Those cut positions would be Division of Children and Family Services staff, 168 caseworkers and investigators, 31 supervisors and 56 program assistants, according to Hutchinson.
The governor released the following statement:
“Today House leadership released an alternative budget in the event that funding for Arkansas Works is not passed in the upcoming fiscal session. To say I am concerned with some of these reductions is an understatement. One such reduction includes a proposed $10 million cut to our state’s foster care system.
“The consequences of this cut alone is devastating and will directly impact the resources available for our foster families, our social workers and nearly 5,000 children in our state’s foster care system. Adequate funding and handling of our state’s foster care community is an important initiative of my administration. To further cut funding for DCFS is a disservice to the foster care community and to the children who so desperately need our help.”
DHS Director Cindy Gillespie issued the following statement:
“The staff who investigate child abuse and work with those children and families are already stretched too thin. Their caseloads are double that of the recommended national average and they work very long hours and give up time with their own families just to get their work done. Cuts to the Governor’s budget request would force us to reduce the current number of staff working in DCFS. If that happens, caseloads will skyrocket and, frankly, that puts children at risk.”