Family resource and youth service centers in local schools are worried about how this year's probable 4.5 percent state budget cuts will affect their programs. Students and families who rely on the centers could see a major decrease in services.
Lynn Vincent, coordinator of the resource centers at Moss Middle School and Rockfield Elementary School, said she's more concerned than usual about budget cuts.
"Every year, they always talk about budget cuts, but this year, it seems like there's going to be more than there's ever been," Vincent said.
The cuts could cause schools to lose some of the programs at their resource centers, which include after-school activities, mentoring, guest speakers, family nights and health education and referrals, she said. The centers also help students with needs such as school supplies and clothing.
"I think it's going to affect everything," Vincent said.
Family resource and youth service centers have experienced budget cuts for the last two years, and over time, they add up, said Dena Holland, coordinator of the Family Resource Center at Dishman-McGinnis Elementary School. By her calculation, the 4.5 percent cut this year will bring the total to 17.5 percent in cuts since June 2010.
Holland said she's gotten used to whittling away at her services by limiting the number of kids in some programs and making less materials available.
"Overall, it's just tightening the belt," she said.
Holland said in the past there's been a revolving door of families in need, but now kids are coming and not leaving.
"The needs have increased, but the funding has decreased," she said. "We're going to keep on doing everything we can for families, but it's hard."
She has to think outside the box now to raise money and recruit volunteers.
Vincent said she does a lot of fundraising each year to get some extra money, including hosting yard sales and penny drives.
She sent an email to parents and teachers urging them to contact state legislators and tell them that budget cuts will hurt students and resource centers.
A decrease in funding will affect all students, not just those in need, Vincent said.
"All our services are for every student in the building, not just needy students," she said. "I don't know if they're needy or not if they come in here."