In March, the agency announced cuts to Infant & Toddler Connection, which provides services for newborns and young children who show signs of intellectual delay in development. For the first time in the agency’s history, children are being put on a waiting list, which means that although the program provides assessments of children, they face delays receiving critical therapies, officials said.
The agency, which receives most of its funding from the county, might also close New Horizons, a 16-bed treatment facility for adults with mental illness and substance abuse problems in Mount Vernon, and Sojourn House, an eight-bed residential program for mentally ill girls.
Advocates for the disabled have expressed alarm about proposed reductions to Employment and Day Services, which aids young people with intellectual disabilities after their graduation from Fairfax public schools. Those cutbacks could force more than 60 families onto a waiting list. Agency officials have asked the county to find money to fund programs for 19 young people whose needs are most acute.
“These are vulnerable people in dire need of services,” said Rikki Epstein, executive director for the Arc of Northern Virginia, a nonprofit organization that assists people with intellectual disabilities.
Kymberly S. DeLoatche, executive director of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, said she is worried that the cuts could force some parents or family members to quit their jobs to provide care that their children would otherwise receive from professionals.
“So that is a huge gaping hole,” she said. “And our families are already on the edge of that hole.”
The agency’s budget problems have prompted heightened scrutiny from the Board of Supervisors, which has had to find more money for the agency at a time when the county’s finances are still feeling the aftershocks of the 2007-09 recession. On Tuesday, the supervisors are to review a plan proposed by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to address the budget gap. The county also plans to hold a series of public hearings, beginning June 4, to gauge opinion about how to handle the problem.
The Community Services Board administers social services programs for more than 22,600 people. Much of the work is done under contract by private organizations, but the CSB oversees the services and finances them with federal, state and local funding.