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Crisp COunty DFCS office faces possible closure

CORDELE – The Crisp County office of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) is one of 53 throughout the state possibly facing closure in the 2021 fiscal year due to budget cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic according to Georgia DFCS division director Tom Rawlings.

The proposed office eliminations are a part of DFCS’ 14 percent budget cut recommendations in response to Gov. Brian Kemp’s request that all state agencies make cuts. The decision was made after considering factors such as utilization, customer traffic and potential impact.

“We plan to cut our physical plant by 14 percent as well, which would mean closing some county offices,” Rawlings said in a press release. “We will move to a ‘hub and spoke’ system in which one office serves several counties but in which we also negotiate free or shared spaces in those other counties.”

The cuts will particularly hurt the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) , which provides cash assistance to families in need of things like childcare.

DFCS applied more than $45 million in unallocated TANF funds to these changes and cut TANF-funded projects, leaving a plan that will apply about half of unallocated TANF to the budget in the 2021 fiscal year and leave the other half for other needs in the future.

“We have taken an approach that shifts as much of our necessary work to federal funds as possible,” Rawlings said, “especially out-of-home expenses for children in foster care and assistance to parents who have adopted children from foster care.”

Like many agencies, our budget is funded at the state and federal level,” Crisp County DFCS director Linda Rollins said. “We want to minimize the impact that State cuts have on us by using federal funds as much as possible. We have some flexibility in how we cover costs so we’re shifting certain expenses to maximize the use of federal funds.

Rollins said the final decision on the SFY21 budget and the potential closure of any office is in the hands of the Georgia General Assembly, which is currently in

  “Currently our staff is primarily working from home,” Rollins said. “If the county office is closed, the staff will continue to telework and those who need to work in an office setting may be housed in another DFCS office location.”

   Rollins also noted that Crisp clients will continue to be served as has been done throughout the pandemic which is accept applications online, by phone and through the mail.  Constituents may also apply for Medicaid, SNAP and TANF by using any one of these methods.

  “TANF clients benefits will not be affected as services are still being provided to families,” she said. “Benefits will continue for those who are eligible.”