Social services brace for federal cuts

Updated: Jan. 1, 2013 at 8:30 PM HST
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With a deal in Congress, the state's economy dodges a fiscal bullet.

But Hawaii's social services community expects to catch from flak from the protracted budget talks.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said the deal approved by the House today will mean no major cuts for now in defense spending and to programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

"What were really looking at was a total disaster from a fiscal level and what were able to do is avoid it," Schatz said.

But not all share his optimism.

Hawaii's social services community, weary after years of budget cuts is still bracing for more.

"For me it's kind of scary, I think that all of the nonprofits that serve as a safety net in the community really are wondering what's going to be next," said Connie Mitchell, executive director for the Institute for Human Services.

IHS -- which serves Hawaii's homeless -- gets about $2 million -- or about a quarter of its budget -- from federal sources.

"If they cut our resources and we're already very thin across the board in the nonprofit sector, then we're really not going to be able to meet the needs," Mitchell added.

Child & Family Service has similar worries.

The social agency gets about $5 million -- or about 20 percent of its budget -- from the federal government.

"Once they come to term with spending cuts at the federal level but it seems pretty clear that they will eventually have to step up to spending cuts," said Garval, CFS's president and CEO.

Garval said that many nonprofits are also worried about efforts to cap the

Many of these social services are still reeling from the state budget cuts in 2009.

As demand for their services continues to rise, they say it will only get harder to meet the community needs.

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