The economic slump has prompted a spike in the number of Westchester residents and families who need counseling and assistance from social service agencies like Family Services of Westchester. But state and county funding for important programs, like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Youth Council leadership training for teens, are all experiencing budget cuts.
The county implemented a seven percent cut in its Invest in Kids initiative while the state cut its COPS (Comprehensive Outpatient Program Services) funding by seven percent as well. These simultaneous funding cuts are a double whammy for some of our programs, notes Lynn Green, Vice President of Development for Family Services of Westchester. FSWs Respite programs, which provide after school recreation and a seven-week day camp for children with serious emotional difficulties, were affected by both cutbacks. This is particularly heart-wrenching as these youngsters in Respite cannot usually participate in other after-school and summer programs, adds Green. They need more structure and individualized attention and without programs like Respite, they will be at home with nothing to do, losing ground socially and emotionally.