Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Social Services Face `Lifeboat Mentality,' Stangler Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Social Services Face `Lifeboat Mentality,' Stangler Says

Article excerpt

Whether you're a new parent or an abused child or a laid-off autoworker, you're going to be affected by the final budget resolution approved by a congressional conference committee last week, state officials say.

The only question is how painful the effects will be, they said Tuesday.

"Congress has reverted to a lifeboat mentality," said Gary Stangler, director of the Missouri Department of Social Services, the largest state agency. "There's only so much room for so many people. Those who make it in, great. Those who don't, too bad."

Stangler was one of six state officials who took part in a two-hour interactive video conference on the probable impact of Congressional action this year on human services in Missouri.

About 1,500 people watched the teleconference from 10 sites around the state, including about 200 from the campus of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Most were employees of social service agencies, schools, health clinics and advocacy groups.

From the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to the departments of health and mental health, the message was grim. Big changes are coming in programs and services that many Missourians take for granted.

Employment services. Sandra Moore, director of the labor department, said that between 29,000 and 65,000 people could lose job-matching services, and eight employment security offices might be closed. Unemployment benefits might be curtailed.

Public health. The Department of Health expects to lose at least a quarter of its federal funds - $48 million. About 23,000 fewer children would receive free immunizations and dental care every year, and about 37,000 women would lose family planning services, said Pamela Rice Walker, chief of the office of governmental relations. …

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