200,000 children could lose child support - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

200,000 children could lose child support

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Budget cuts continue to loom over the state's Department of Human Resources.

As part of the legislative budget hearings, Alabama lawmakers asked the DHR to evaluate how a 25% reduction in state dollars would affect Alabamians they serve--particularly the children.

The huge cutback isn't a done deal, but DHR officials say it could result in nearly half of its programs being eliminated.

Commissioner Nancy Buckner admits she faces difficult decisions if the legislature cuts her budget by 25%.

"The reality I guess really set in when you were trying to figure out on paper where to take the 25% reductions and how to make it work."

She says the only way to make it work is to dissolve two of DHR's largest programs--Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child support which would halt financial assistance for as many as 200,000 Alabama children.

Buckner says it's the only option.

"We wish we weren't having to make this choice, but we get an appropriation from the legislature and we have to live within that appropriation."

Programs wouldn't be the only thing on the chopping block. 900 more employees could lose their jobs, too--only adding to cuts made three years ago.

"Since 2008 we've reduced about 400 staff here at DHR."

Buckner says she will not cut any programs that compromise child safety. But, she believes losing financial assistance could eventually affect them just as badly.

"I think it will be devastating for this state for the number of people that we serve to have to go without these services."

Buckner says if the department is cut 25%, she could lose more than $140 million dollars in federal funding.

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