By Sid Riley
Local Social Services Organization Is Suffering From Funding Cuts
The local social services organization, JCARC, was started on a modest basis in 1974 with the mission to help the mentally disabled in our community lead a better, more productive and more fulfilling life. It was initially involved with national programs such as the "Special Olympics" and similarly directed programs.
Through the years the scope and costs of its programs has expanded dramatically. Some of the operating funds are generated through internal programs such as the JCARC nursery system, the JCARC woodworking shop, the JCARC yard work and cleaning crews, and other fund generating development-work programs. Other funding is realized through State social services funding. The organization also operates several group homes where clients are able to live in an assisted living environment.
The JCARC has grown and expanded steadily since 1974, reaching a high of sixty employees. It recently built a new operations building which is located in Marianna on Pennsylvania Avenue. This facility houses the horticulture programs and all mobile work crews. There are a total of 58 individuals with disabilities who report to work or for training at this facility each morning. The JCARC currently works with a total of 148 individuals in our community who have these types of disabilities.
The State of Florida is now experiencing severe funding problems and is in the process of budget trimming. The "social services" area is one of the areas where the cuts have been the deepest thus far. This has created the current plight for our local JCARC. Through reductions in the hours of client participation which the State is willing to pay JCARC for their services, and due to reductions in outside contract services for the JCARC cleaning work crews, the organization has already lost over $385,000 in funding.
Reportedly, the organization has been unable to meet its payroll obligations and benefit obligations earlier this month, causing their health insurance program to be cancelled, and employees to go without pay for several weeks. They utilize an employee leasing program for their payroll and benefit systems, and that leasing company has thus been forced to discontinue their participation with JCARC until cash flow can be restored.
The Jackson County Times contacted Program Director, Francis Henderson to find out more about this situation. She stated that their organization is rapidly taking steps to react to this problem. They have reduced their staff by 12, they are relocating the sign shop and woodworking shop to reduce lease costs, and are exploring several other cost cutting measures. Mrs. Henderson did state that the payroll will be brought to current status this week, and the health benefits have already been reinstated. She appeals to the community, civic organizations, and private individuals for help in this very worthwhile organization’s "Time Of Need".