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Manatee County Commission Reviews $7 Million in Children's Services


BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's Manatee County Commission work session, BOCC members met with Children's Services Advisory Board members to discuss the goals and priorities for FY 2014. Topics included: the needs of children and families, accomplishments of funded CSAB programs and recommendations for their improvement.

Mike Neugas, Human Services Manager for Manatee County delivered the presentation for Commissioners and CSAB members. 

There were six categories discussed at the BOCC work session.

  • The Maternal and Child Health Category was the first. It is designed to ensure quality health for our children and families. 

In FY 2014, the county has dedicated $82,110 for basic dental services, dental health education and forensic examinations (to validate or rule out allegations of physical abuse or child neglect).

Children that develop dental problems often take them to adulthood, impairing their ability to work and maintain gainful employment.

Out of 258 forensic medical examinations to determine questionable abuse, 169 examinations proved to be unnecessary. 

  • Much of the session was spent on the School Readiness Category, designed to optimize children's potential. 

The county has slated funds for that category at $1,586,603 for child care, early education and training parents of preschool children to be their child's first teacher.

  • The Out of School Time Category promotes programs and services such as before, and after school, summer care and youth development services.

County funds, in the amount of $2,009,722 will go to fund the Out of School FY 2014 program; In FY 2013, there were 4,562 participants.

  • The Prevention and Redirection Category includes, teen pregnancy, gang prevention, school suspensions, special needs and substance abuse.

The cost for the programs in this category are: $1,770,976. These funds will go to reduce teen births, repeat births, bullying, gang membership, alcohol and drug use, and to keep teens in school.

  • Neuges also discussed the Family Strengthening and Support Category where $872,790 of County Funds will go to help pay for support groups and counseling of children and related caregivers, counseling of adopted children and families, parenting, as well as parenting classes.
  • The last Category is Crisis Stabilization. It will get $842,764 to be used to help pay for emergency food assistance, homeless women and children, provide shelter/group home beds, counseling for children sheltered or hospitalized, and in-home parenting.

Many of the programs in these categories receive private funds to help make their goals; and many of those supporting sponsors, like the county, have experienced fiscal shortfalls as of late.

Manatee County spends slightly more than $7 million on 59 programs that fall within the parameters of these six categories. Manatee's County overall budget is almost $600 million dollars, and $19 million goes to debt services.

Questions and comments from Commissioners:

Commissioner Bustle said, "Harmonizing our objectives should be our goal," then asked, "How do we deal with duplication of services?"

CSAB Chair, Jennifer Radebach said, "We brought down the cost of services," and added that they have been working on that over the last year; a statement backed up by Negues.

Commissioner Whitmore said, "I recommend we all meet with the school board." Whitmore then said she wasn't throwing blame, but emphasized the need for all parties to get on the same page. Whitmore went on to reiterate, "Money is tight."

When Commissioner Benac asked, "What is causing the wait list?" (referring to those who are waiting for the available programs to catch up with those on the list in need) - CSAB vice-chair Lisa Morrison answered, "Lack of funds."

Director of Community Services, Brenda Rogers said, "We have to keep moving with schedules and submissions," adding, "Reserves are still lower than they were in 2006 … financial services will give us what we have to work with in April."


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