Proposal could cut millions of dollars from foster care system

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Can Missouri afford to slash children's services?

Proposed state cuts could take millions from foster care and subsidized child care programs, affecting thousands of children.

It's something Heartland families call alarming.

"I just want to know what their plan is to take care of the children when that money goes away," said Dr. Paul Caruso, a foster father.

He and his wife have six children. Three are adopted, and three adoptions are pending.

"Those children are still going to need care."

Sixteen-year-old Jordan came into the Caruso home when he was just five.

"They are just loving people," said Jordan. "It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, they'll take you in."

"I would say they give to me as much as I give to them," said Dr. Caruso. "They bring so much to our life. Kids need to get into a permanent home with a loving environment where they know who their mother and father is."

In Missouri, foster needs continue to grow, with drugs and the economy putting 15,000 kids into the system according to D.S.S.

"One of the things I would ask our legislature is how do you put a value on the future of a child?" said Dr. Caruso.

The state proposes more than $13 million in cuts to the foster care system, according to the Department of Social Services.

That would ax 42 full time employees who work to protect children from abuse and neglect. Almost $12 million would come from funds that help pay for the cost of adoption.

"It's difficult for most foster parents to provide for children even with the current program," said Dr. Caruso.

The Caruso's adopted Jordan and his two biological brothers. They say cuts would mean some families would not have been able to take them all in.

"That was very important for me," said Jordan. "I was very attached to my brothers. If they would not have been with me it would have thrown my whole childhood off because that that point you're closer to your siblings than anyone."

Meanwhile, another blow could come to thousands of Missouri parents who rely on programs that help them pay for child care so they can work, over all cuts that families say hurt everyone in the long run.

"You're either pay now or pay later and you're probably going to pay more later," said Dr. Caruso.

Lawmakers say supplement funding could help if there's a short fall, but families feel that's not reliable.

The budget bill is expected to be up for debate again on the Senate floor Tuesday.

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