Officials: Cost of new DCF social workers won't hurt other programs


State officials Thursday provided more details on how the governor plans to pay for an additional 18 social workers at the Department for Children and Families.

Those extra workers are part of a larger reorganization plan Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday, following the death of two toddlers, both of whom had ties to the department. The new social workers will cost $1.6 million, Shumlin said.

The state is betting on savings next year from Reach Up, a state welfare program that helps low-income Vermonters find jobs. That money has already been earmarked to ease people off Reach Up, rather than having them falling off what is known as the "benefits cliff."

State officials said Thursday there is enough to pay for both measures.

Jim Reardon, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, said that by the time the benefits cliff bill take effect on July 1, 2015, there should be enough Reach Up savings to cover both measures. In addition, $500,000 for the social workers will come from two federal sources: the global commitment Medicaid dollars and a fund to support foster care, known as IV-E.

If, for some reason, the Reach Up savings do not materialize, Reardon said, he will find the money elsewhere in the state budget. The extra services created in the benefits cliff bill do not take effect if the savings don't happen.



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