The Family Advocacy Unit at Community Legal Services represents hundreds of parents in the child welfare system every year. Many of the parents we represent become involved with the child welfare system for reasons stemming from their poverty and lack of adequate support . While a number of the parents we represent struggle with serious drug addiction, all too often we see parents who are capable and loving parents labeled unfit to care for their children due to their sporadic marijuana use. As this article describes in detail, while marijuana use doesn’t usually form the basis to bring a family into the child welfare system, it can form the basis to keep a family in the child welfare system and to keep a child in foster care:
In passing the budget last month, the Pennsylvania Legislature had an opportunity to take a balanced approach that included enhanced revenue through a variety of common sense measures. Unfortunately, the 2010-11 budget relied mostly on cuts to essential services.
The budget includes funding cuts for many programs and services that help CLS clients, including:
- 19% cuts to the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for 345,000 low-income disabled and elderly Pennsylvanians.
- 17% cuts to state health clinic funding.
- 4% cuts to behavioral health services.
- $5.9 million cuts to the Human Services Development Fund, which funds many County human services programs (on top of the previous year’s cut of $4.1 million.)
Without additional revenue, the essential services that CLS clients often rely on to satisfy basic human needs may face even deeper cuts next year.
For more details on the state budget and what it means for low-income Pennsylvanian families, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.