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Social Workers: State Shutdown Would Rip Safety Net to Shreds

June 23, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Arizona social workers say the state's safety net will be shredded if the budget standoff forces a partial government shutdown next week. Carol Stambaugh, Arizona director for the National Association of Social Workers, says so-called non-essential services will be suspended, including investigations of child abuse and neglect.

"We already know that child abuse reports are up. This is the absolute worst possible time that we could see a shutdown in which there would be no ability to investigate new child abuse cases."

Stambaugh says the same would hold true for cases of elder abuse. Also stopped would be state-funded services for victims of domestic violence.

Stambaugh is especially concerned about the potential shutdown's impact on Arizona's poorest citizens, who depend on state-provided health care.

"Does that mean that they will be unable to continue on their current medications? Does that mean that they will no longer be able to keep the appointments that they had scheduled to monitor and treat the conditions that they have? These are things that can spiral out of control."

Stambaugh says child day care subsidies for the working poor were also left off the protected list, raising more serious questions.

"Does this mean that those children will no longer be able to go to day care, which then means that those parents will have no care for their children, and may even have to miss work or potentially lose their jobs?"

Stambaugh says a partial government shutdown will leave the state's system of social services unable to function.

Republican legislative leaders insist that raising taxes will further depress the state's damaged economy. But Republican Governor Jan Brewer says a temporary hike is vital to avoid a fiscal disaster.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ