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Forsyth County News

By the numbers

The Forsyth County Social Services Committee’s recommendations for social services grant funding included:

* Department of Family and Children Services — $140,000

* Bald Ridge Lodge — $75,000

* Jesse’s House — $75,000

* Court Appointed Special Advocates — $60,500

* Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center — $35,000

* Mentor Me North Georgia — $20,000

* Children’s Center for Hope and Healing — $17,500

* Forsyth County Family Haven — $12,000

The Forsyth County Social Services Committee recommended grants for 2014 to eight agencies that work with the juvenile justice system.

The group voted 5-0 on Wednesday on the distribution of $435,000 to award to local nonprofits in the county’s 2014 preliminary budget.

Forsyth County commissioners will take a final vote on the funding allotments later this year.

Possible impacts of the state juvenile justice reform law received special consideration in the committee’s decisions for funding.

The new juvenile code, which takes effect Jan. 1, aims in large part to create alternatives to detention for youth, as well as provide representation for all children through the legal process.

The committee and Juvenile Court Judge Russell Jackson felt that many of the new requirements may be filled through existing partner services, which will in turn cause those organizations’ demands to increase.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who serves on the committee, said she spoke with Jackson about the applications to determine who might need the extra funding more and who could do with less based on the upcoming new requirements.

With $564,450 requested and $435,000 available, the group had some tough decisions, she said.

Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, and the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing received increases from grant funding last year due to the anticipation that they will have more juveniles to serve.

“CASA, because they are going to be getting the brunt of the burden we think of the new juvenile justice with having advocates for each of those children, they had asked for $70,500,” Mills said.

The committee decided to increase CASA to $60,500, up from $35,000 this year, intended to allow the nonprofit to hire a fourth case manager.

The group also brought up the funding for Jesse’s House to match the Bald Ridge Lodge at $75,000, since both agencies provide the same shelter service, but one is for girls and the other boys.

Those increases caused the need to make cuts elsewhere, and the Department of Family and Children Services was recommended for a cut in 2014 from its usual allotment of $171,000 to $140,000.

DFACS had submitted a revised plan to reduce its county grant funding to $150,000.

The committee also opted to cut funding for Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, or SAFFT, due to the county providing the funding for the group to lease a new facility.

SAFFT received $15,000 through the social services grant program in 2013.