Friday, December 22, 2006

Cuts may mean no apartments for youth aging out of Boy's Haven

U.S. cuts felt deeply by local programs
Carroll, James. Louisville Courier-Journal, Dec. 23, 2005, pg. C1.

For Father Maloney's Boys' Haven in Louisville, buying another apartment building for youths leaving the foster-care system may have to wait. A University of Kentucky rural cancer-detection program for the southeastern part of the state may have to slow its plans for expansion.

And at Louisville's New Zion Community Development Foundation, administrator Robert Blair is wondering how he will offset the loss of $49,000 for tutoring and after-school programs for about 100 West End children.

Those were three of the many ripples felt yesterday from the final passage of a $602 billion spending measure that had no money for special local and state projects.

Despite objections from Rep. Anne Northup, R-3rd District, and some of her colleagues, the Senate approved the bill late Wednesday for the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services . The House approved the legislation last week, and it now goes to President Bush for his signature.

Last year, the representatives and senators for Kentucky and Southern Indiana obtained $38.65 million in local projects for their states in the same bill.

Of that, Kentucky accounted for $31.99 million, according to a Courier-Journal survey.Indiana accounted for $6.66 million, according to a database assembled by Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Northup secured almost $3.9 million in last year's Labor-Health spending bill for dozens of educational and social programs in the Louisville area. She said she had intended to seek a similar amount this year but declined to provide details.

In earlier House-Senate negotiations, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., removed $1 billion for local projects from the fiscal 2006 spending bill, saying the money needed to go to other programs.

"I'm very disappointed," Northup said yesterday, adding that the impact is "considerable" on Louisville-area programs.

The lawmaker said she intends to try other avenues to secure help, asking that federal agencies provide one-time assistance to programs in her district where possible. That effort will begin next month, she said.

Northup and other lawmakers have declined to reveal what projects they were seeking in this year's Labor -Health bill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., secured $20 million last year in the bill for Kentucky, mostly for the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., got $2 million last year for Kentucky projects; Rep. Hal Rogers, R-5th District, got $4 million; Rep. Ben Chandler, D-6th District, obtained $1.1 million; and Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-1st District, and Ron Lewis, R-2nd District, secured $500,000 each.

'"I'm with people that relate'Boys' Haven received $50,000 last year to support its educational programs. This year, the organization was hoping to receive $200,000 to help purchase apartments for young men and women older than 18 who have left foster care and need support while starting the next phase of their lives. But it's unclear whether we'll be able to replace that $200,000 hit," said Vern Rickert , executive director of Boys' Haven.

"It may mean we may not be able to buy those apartments."

Michael Blanchard has been in an apartment owned by Boys' Haven for two years and now works at the organization's residential campus.

He said the apartment is crucial to his progress.

"I'm with people that relate," said Blanchard, 24. "I would really hope there would be those opportunities given to other individuals in similar circumstances. It's really been beneficial to have some stability and to have people around who have been with me for a while."

Cancer detection program
UK's early -detection program for cancer in Eastern Kentucky received $950,000 from Congress two years ago and $750,000 last year. The five-year program is in its third year.

Dr. Alfred Cohen, director and chief executive officer of UK's Markey Cancer Center, said the cut comes at a bad time.

"We've just gotten things going, and we're excited and we've been productive, and now - boom," Cohen said.

"It will slow it down," Cohen said of the absence of congressional help this year.

The program is intended to help people most at risk of developing lung, liver and esophageal cancer, and UK has been building a network of relationships in southeastern Kentucky communities, Cohen said.

"We will survive, and we will somehow keep the project going," he said.

He expects UK to turn to other sources of money, including revenue from the tobacco tax, money from the national tobacco buyout, and philanthropy.

Blair, the New Zion administrator, said $49,000 may not seem like a lot to some organizations, but it is about a quarter of the foundation's budget.

"I don't know where those monies are going to come from," Blair said . "That's a big hit."

Nancy Martin, U of L's senior vice president for research, said the cuts probably took about $20 million from the school.

Wendy Baldwin, UK executive vice president for research, said "no earmarks in the Labor-H bill probably cost us in excess of $5 million."

"UK will look at each program and determine if there are other sources of money, Baldwin said. "Most projects you can't just idle," she said. "You have to keep on truckin'."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in a group home and aged out. It has taken me a year to get on my feet in a good job and get my own apartment. With no support from a lacking family... its extremely difficult for a foster child that has aged out to get a start. Luckily I have a group of excellent friends that offered me a place to stay until I could get on my feet. But what about those who do not have a upport system whatsoever? Thats where my concern

7:45 AM  

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