- Josh Marcus-Blank
Sununu Pressured to Actually Fully Fund DCYF
In Case You Missed It, Governor Chris Sununu is facing increasing pressure from lawmakers to actually support full funding for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). Throughout Sununu’s campaign for re-election, Sununu highlighted the urgent need to address the crisis at DCYF, but in his budget address he lied by saying he would add 62 new positions to the Department. In his actual budget, Sununu proposed just 26 new positions.
Concord Monitor, 4/16/19:
“Democrats, meanwhile, have slammed [Sununu’s] strategy and accused Sununu of shortchanging the agency’s needs.
“The rhetoric from the governor’s office about authorized positions is meaningless; they only funded 26 positions,” said Concord Democratic Sen. Dan Feltes on Tuesday.
And lawmakers on both sides of the issue have shown willingness to opt for Morgan’s approach.
Rep. Kimberly Rice, a Hudson Republican who sits on both the House Children committee and the Advisory Board, argued the state needed “more money than 26 positions.”
“We all know how badly the positions are needed at DCYF,” Rice said. “I think that it’s going to cost money. That’s just a reality.”
Shulman said all sides appear to be converging.
‘I think the legislation’s going to go through, I think the funding’s going to go through,” said Shulman. “... I think the issue’s going to be the governor.’”
Keene Sentinel, 4/18/19:
Jenn Alford-Teaster of Sutton, a Dartmouth College researcher, made DCYF funding a central component of her unsuccessful bid to unseat state Sen. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard, in November. During the campaign, Teaster told voters about her personal experiences with the agency, while she was growing up on the Seacoast in the 1990s.
During a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord last month, she described herself as a “return on investment for the DCYF program” and urged Sununu to sign SB 6.
“I strongly encourage Governor Sununu to do the right thing and to come forward and fully fund DCYF, so we can make sure children like me, who grew up in difficult circumstances, have the opportunity to reach their potential,” she said in the news conference, which was streamed on the Facebook page of SB 6’s sponsor, state Sen. Jon Morgan, D-Brentwood.
Sununu has proposed authorizing 62 new positions at DCYF over two years, with 27 protective child workers allocated for fiscal year 2020.
Shulman said Sununu’s proposal would not fully fund DCYF and that in the long run, there could be a greater cost to the taxpayer if more positions are not added.
“The bottom line — I keep trying to say this — is that if you just want to look at a cost-benefit analysis, and you’re not even looking at the human cost, it costs us more not to provide the treatments and the services in the long run than if we did,” Shulman said. “More kids will go into care, they’ll stay in care longer, New Hampshire doesn’t have enough placements for certain kids, so we’re shipping kids out of the state at a higher and higher number.”
Union Leader, 4/18/19:
Gov. Chris Sununu could have difficulty winning one policy fight with the Legislature.
That is over staffing of the Division of Children, Youth and Families.
Both sides agree the agency needs more people to reduce heavy workloads that caseworkers are facing.
The Senate has approved and a House panel endorsed a bill to hire an additional 20 supervisors and 57 caseworkers.
In his budget, Sununu only paid for a fraction of that additional staff.
“New Hampshire children can’t wait any longer for the state to fulfill our responsibility to protect their safety and well being,” said Sen. Jon Morgan, D-Brentwood, the Senate bill’s prime sponsor. “We must act now to protect our most vulnerable citizens — by increasing staffing levels and reducing caseloads, that’s just what SB 6 will do.”