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Summary of Catholic Charities Maine’s Current Legislative Priorities

Key programs affected by budget cuts today:

Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS)

Massive cuts to this program will directly impact the lives of over 1,400 refugee and asylee clients. These funding cuts will mean the slashing of half of all funds for Refugee Resettlement and Match Grant (an employment incentive program) and 10% reductions to case management support services, services to elder refugees, and assistance to survivors of torture, all of which are already underfunded.

Substance Abuse Counseling Services

A total loss of $6 million dollars in Maine will eliminate the network of residential treatment programs where the most vulnerable individuals receive treatment, greatly reducing funding for, and limiting access to, prevention services and programs for children, teens, college students and parents.

The Governor’s proposed budget eliminates $4.4 million from the Office of Substance Abuse’s (OSA) Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) budget. In addition to this reduction, the effects will be compounded by Maine losing $1.4 million in federal funds through federal Block Grant reductions.

A total loss of $6 million dollars to OSA will eliminate the network of residential treatment programs in Maine where the most vulnerable individuals receive treatment.

What does this mean to Maine citizens and taxpayers if we close 10 residential facilities? The total economic cost of alcohol and drug abuse in Maine in 2010 was estimated at $1,180 million or $907 for every resident in Maine. The three areas requiring the most resources are crime, medical care, and death. These costs will only increase without appropriate treatment opportunities. Spending money on treatment leads to health and public safety cost reductions, health care savings and improved workplace development and retention.

The loss funds will most likely impact Maine’s Substance Abuse Treatment programs by:

  • Reducing residential treatment programs from 13 to 3
  • Transitioning treatment to the lowest level of care in limited settings and reducing the number of treatment agencies, thus causing decreased client access;
  • Eliminating substance abuse treatment for HIV populations and an ACT program.
  • Greatly reducing funding for, and limiting access to, prevention services and programs for children, teens, college students and parents.

Cost offset of Treatment Services

The benefits of treatment far outweighs costs:

  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the return on investment in treatment may exceed 12:1, in that every dollar spent on treatment can reduce future burden costs by $12 or more in reduced drug related crime, criminal justice and health care costs.
  • The total economic cost of alcohol and drug abuse in Maine in 2010 is estimated at $1,180 million or $ 907 for every resident in Maine.
  • Maine fund for prevention and treatment is 0.2% of total cost of Maine’s budget spent on substance abuse and addiction (CASA 2005).
  • For every $100 Maine spends on Substance Abuse and Addiction, $0.71 is spent on prevention and treatment, $98.75 is spent on the burden to public programs, and $0.54 is spent on public compliance.
  • Treatment leads to health and public safety cost reductions, health care utilization savings, improved workplace development/jobs retention, Medicaid savings.

Catholic Charities Maine administers two of the programs focused on treatment of individuals with substance abuse disorders. Saint Francis Recovery Center is an Extended Shelter and Halfway House for men in Auburn. There are a total of 32 beds, 16 in each level of care. During calendar year 2010, we provided housing and treatment to a total of 335 men. All 335 clients were provided the intensive services of the extended shelter and 124 men were treated in the Halfway House. Our treatment success rates are considerably higher the national average. 70% of our residents are from the criminal justice system. Most of these young people have years of addiction, are poly-addicted and include a high percentage of opiate dependence.

The elimination of our programs and others in Maine would have a distinctly negative impact on our state and its citizens at a time of epidemic opiate abuse.

Please add your voice to ours, asking to reinstate the funds for substance abuse treatment in the governor’s proposed budget — and click here to help support this important program.

Child Care Services

Proposed budget cuts will severely affect Catholic Charities Maine’s child development centers — St. Louis in Biddeford, and St. Elizabeth’s in Portland — which have been providing high quality childcare services for more than 30 years. Our nationally accredited and state certified childcare allows low-income/income eligible parents to work.

The administration, under the leadership of Governor LePage, has a vision to get people in Maine employed and to keep them working. Having access to safe, dependable, quality child care each and every day is necessary to the success of meeting their vision. Unfortunately the proposed budget cuts threaten this vision.

The proposed changes affecting childcare are:

  • Decreasing Maine’s budget for childcare by approximately $900,000/yr. for the next 2 years, consisting of an annual reduction of state general funds of $300,000, which will cause the loss of an additional $600,000/yr. in 2- to-1 federal matching funds
  • Dramatically reducing the already discounted reimbursement rates paid by the State for childcare subsidies.
  • The number of childcare providers that currently accept DHHS Vouchers has dropped to only 4 out of every 10. By lowering these rates further, quality childcare will not be an option for the most needy children in our state.
  • Every dollar spent on quality childcare results in future savings of $3 to $17 that would have been paid out for other services that these children would have needed developmentally and educationally, had they not received effective, quality childcare to prepare them for school-readiness and success.
  • The neediest children in Maine deserve to have access to the highest quality childcare available. This directly improves that needy child’s prospects for breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency and developing the skills to thrive without ongoing state support.

The anticipated reductions in childcare funding and the reduction in rates will make it financially impossible for providers to accept a DHHS Voucher. As a result, many low-income parents will lose their access to high quality childcare.

Parents cannot work as much nor as productively as they do not have access to affordable childcare.

To help support this important program, please click here.