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Another Drain on The County Budget


Coldwater, MI (WTVB) _ One of the toughest budget busters for Branch County government to crack is the rising cost for institutionalized child care. The county gets reimbursed by the state on a 50-50 match for foster care home placements.

However, with private child care in an institutionalized setting, the county has to pick up the entire tab. Last year, that was 96-thousand dollars, this year, the projected cost is 164-thousand dollars and for 2013, up, up, and away, 216-thousand dollars.

The County Board of Commissioner’s Finance Committee met on Monday and invited State Senator Bruce Caswell to the special session in an attempt to find out if the Department of Human Services can offer any relief from the spiraling costs.

Caswell, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also chairs the D-H-S subcommittee summarized the issues that seem to be boosting the number requiring institutionalized care. That includes DHS not getting enough foster care parents in the county to work with the public agency.

Also, there are more kids coming into the system and finally, in Caswell’s words, the wildcard, no one can predict the severity of the children that require treatment and how many could need residential care.  It could happen 2 or 3 times a year, while in other years, it might not happen at all. Appearing with Caswell before the panel at the courthouse in Coldwater were local DHS Director Linda Albig and Kim Willis, Foster Program Manager.