© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

Boys And Girls Schools On List For Department Of Family Services Reductions

screen shot by Tennessee Watson

On Monday, Dec. 14, the Joint Appropriations Committee heard Wyoming Department of Family Services' Director Korin Schmidt present her department's plan to cut its budget. This comes after Gov. Mark Gorden announced last month he wanted the state budget reduced by an additional $500 million, following 10 percent cuts in July.

Over a third of the $8.5 million that DFS will cut comes from reduced operations at the Wyoming Boys and Girls Schools, including the elimination of 21 positions.

"In both the Boys School and the Girls School, our hope would be," Schmidt told the committee, "that we can achieve the reduction in staffing numbers by attrition without having to go through a formal reduction in force process."

Attrition refers to eliminating vacant positions as opposed to laying off current staff.
Sublette County Rep. Albert Sommers applauded DFS for making what he called "balanced reductions."

"I thought you did the best job of any agency in... protecting the clients you serve while taking cuts inside of your agency," said Sommers.

But the families and children DFS serves aren't entirely shielded. Fremont County Rep. Lloyd Larsen asked Schmidt if proposed reductions in foster care payments might discourage families from signing up to care for children in need of safe homes.

Several committee members were also interested in a more formal review of Wyoming's approach to juvenile justice after hearing that for several years the number of juvenile delinquents placed by judges at the Boys School and Girls School had gone down. Schmidt described the cuts as right sizing operations and staffing to match the smaller population of kids at the two facilities.

She said the decrease in court ordered placements could be due to the success of local programs that support youth and redirect them away from risky behaviour that gets them in trouble. However, funding for the Community Juvenile Service Boards that do this work has also been cut, leaving it up to counties to fund programs without state support.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
Related Content