As Georgia faces its greatest budget crisis since the Great Depression, the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has been forced to make drastic budget cuts. The last three years have seen a reduction of more than 20% in state funding. And future cuts of up to 10% for FY 2012 are possible. Jeff Minor, long time DJJ Chief Financial Officer, explains these losses in stark terms:
In FY 2009, DJJ’s base budget totaled nearly $343 million. By 2011, the budget was down to $266 million. The FY 2012 budget faces further cuts, from $15.4 million in a best case scenario to $25.7 million in a worst case scenario. Over a three year period, the cuts could total nearly 30%. In addition, says Minor, the agency lost more than $80 million in one-time budget cuts, largely absorbed through staff furloughs and hiring freezes.
In the season of warm fuzzy sweaters and family get-togethers, many young people in Georgia have but one New Year’s resolution – a safe place to sleep at night. An unknown number of teenagers and young adults are alone and homeless in Georgia. Who they are and where they are – no one knows much about them. For the first time Georgia is undertaking an ambitious project to count a representative sample of these homeless youth statewide, and develop a uniform reporting system. Funded by the Governor’s Office for Families and Children, the project takes place during the last week of January. The Homeless Youth Count Project is part of a bi-annual census of homeless people of all ages, mandated by HUD. As part of this initiative The State Department of Community Affairs is sending out a questionnaire to service providers in 152 counties, which for the first time, will ask for specific information about homeless young people, 24 and younger.