JFF, ECI Enhanced; Services for Disabled, Kids Restored; New ‘Life Skills and Employment Initiative,’ Next Steps for Economic Development Announced
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi provided a preview of his 2012 county budget Tuesday, announcing nearly $1.9 million in restorations to human services programming and additional initiatives to strengthen Dane County’s residents and economy.
“When moms and dads don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, where their kids are going after school, or where their family is going to sleep at night, it makes it easier to find a job or get the training necessary to advance in their careers,” said Parisi. “My budget will contain investments in our people, and in our economy, to strengthen the entire county.”
As County Executive, with difficult budget conditions looming, Parisi has made preserving the county’s human services a top priority. Human services historically comprise at least 50% of Dane County’s annual budget – a total comparable to the budget for the entire City of Madison. The County Executive’s 2012 human services proposal upholds this commitment, reinvesting nearly $1.9 million in services for kids, seniors, the disabled, and those families struggling during the Great Recession.
The County Executive’s human services budget will also enhance well-established and highly successful preventative programs for Dane County families. Joining Forces for Families (JFF) offices across Dane County will remain open and fully funded, allowing residents in neighborhoods of need to continue to easily access and receive critical services. A new social worker for the program will also be added to serve families on the Southside.
The county’s Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) will also continue in three Dane County neighborhoods – Sun Prairie, Allied Drive, and on the southwest side of Madison in the Russett/Hammersley neighborhood. To date, ECI has helped over 336 moms and dads find family-supporting jobs while ensuring kids have a healthy, quality start to life. 173 individuals are from the Allied Drive neighborhood alone, and to meet that increasing need Parisi’s budget creates a new economic support specialist in that neighborhood.
Parisi’s budget also includes $621,021 in restored funding for critical services to aid adults and children with developmental disabilities. The restoration accounts for 30% of Parisi’s total human services reinvestments.
Senior services are funded in the County Executive’s budget as well, including all of the county’s senior focal points, and adult day care services at the Colonial Club in Sun Prairie, and the Oregon Senior Center. Additional restorations include funds to the Briarpatch program for runaway youths offered by Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, Centro Hispano, the Salvation Army’s Warming House, and Youth Resource Centers across Dane County.
The County Executive outlined plans for a new proposal in his 2012 budget – the Life Skills and Employment Initiative. The initiative partners the county with Operation Fresh Start (OFS) and other community leaders in providing at-risk youth with the tools, connections and skills necessary to land and keep a job.
The Life Skills and Employment Initiative will provide $62,730 to Operation Fresh Start to help fund a new 15 person work crew. Dane County Human Services, the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, the Urban League and Centro Hispano will provide Operation Fresh Start with youth referrals to fill the crew. The programs offered through OFS are particularly important to young people of color in our community.
“During our six economic development summits over the summer, the importance of a skilled workforce came up time and again,” said Parisi. “A strong workforce means an investment in people. Businesses want to hire, but sometimes can’t find the employees they need. People want jobs, but sometimes don’t have the training they need. The county can play a role in strengthening our workforce with new and existing programming.”
The County Executive also shared additional details on budget proposals stemming from the Dane County Jobs and Prosperity Project, an economic development initiative he began this summer to explore what additional resources and areas of focus the county could assist with in the promotion of job creation and economic prosperity. A full report of recommendations and proposals is attached.
Other components of the County Executive’s economic development proposals include the creation of the proposed Dane County Office of Jobs and Prosperity. Feedback the County Executive has received through his community conversations recommends that the focus of this office include coordinating the county’s economic development efforts, including new business recruitment and retention; promoting policies to enhance job creation; managing the county’s revolving loan fund to assist businesses with low interest financing; and serving as a liaison between existing public and private sector economic development entities.
“The 2012 Dane County budget is without a doubt the most difficult in our county’s history,” said Parisi. “It’s critical that we maintain our commitment to the services our residents depend on, but we must also take the steps necessary to strengthen our economy and insulate the county against challenges that may arise in the future.”
Additional details on the County Executive’s 2012 budget will be released in the coming days.
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