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Cuts in Family Support Program Begin to Hurt

January 23, 2009

Nashville, TN – A Tennessee non-profit support organization for individuals with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities is fighting for its funding. The ARC of Williamson County has operated Tennessee's Family Support Program for 17 years, helping people with disabilities and their families pay for respite care, day care, home modifications and personal assistance. On January 1, the program was cut by 15 percent.

Sharon Bottorff, executive director of the ARC of Williamson County, says her organization already spent most of the money allocated, not anticipating this reduction.

"It’s very difficult to go back and ask families to give us money back that we have already given to them. So, we are having to take the 15 percent cut from those families who have not spent all of their allocation."

According to Bottorff, that doesn’t begin to cover the reduction, forcing the ARC to take the rest from their administrative budget. She says there is no income requirement for those helped by the program, but many of those who seek the help are indeed from low-income families.

"For some folks, they're going to have to make some choices, in terms of paying for some of those kinds of specialized needs and supplies or paying for food."

State officials have said the program isn't the best use of state money. Some advocacy groups have pointed out the cuts are coming at a time when some top state officials are getting pay raises.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - TN