downturn affects families
Wanda English Burnett
Connie DeBurger, executive director of Family Connections, Inc.,
in Versailles has lost two thirds of her staff and 60% of funding
in the past three years.
That loss translates to a loss of services for some of the most
vulnerable populace - women and children in our community.
Family Connections went from being able to serve 210 families
to less than 100 and was completely shut down the last two weeks
of August and the first two weeks of September this year due to
delay of payment from the state, according to DeBurger.
When told from state officials she should always have a cash reserve
of two months on hand, DeBurger said, I just laughed.
But to her, it was really no laughing matter. It was a matter
of not being able to pay her staff, so she had to made the decision
to close. The vicious cycle has a trickle-down effect, that hits
bottom when families do not get the needed services.
DeBurger said the non-profit group went from having a budget of
over a million dollars in 2008 to $476,128 now.
Family Connections is funded through state grants and local fundraisers.
They have a couple of fundraisers in the works now. One is a night
at Gold Star Chili in Versailles. On November 30 from 5-9 p.m.
10% of what is made will go to Family Connections. People are
encouraged to get the best out of the deal by buying their dinner
at Gold Star Chili and helping Family Connections all at the same
Then the group has a card fundraiser. On the card are a number
of local businesses who have teamed up with Family Connections
to give great discounts. The card only costs $10. Family Connections
is co-sponsoring the card project with Project T3 this year. This
is another non-profit group that helps children.
Banks and businesses locally that have the cards available include:
FCN in Sunman and Batesville, MainSource and The Friendship State
Bank, Lisas Sew and Tux and Joans T-shirts. The Napoleon
State Bank will have them available at the Holton, Osgood, and
DeBurger has been with Family Connections nearly 28 years. In
her career, she has never seen the need so great for families
to receive their services, nor the funding so low to provide them.
She said, We want to see these families succeed. She
also told The Versailles Republican, she wants to see Family Connections
remain independent, but isnt sure that will happen. In the
end, she said they will do whats best for those they serve.
What is Family Connections all about?
They provide services and assist families in receiving assistance
and services that include: promoting positive parent/child bonding
and interaction; promoting healthy childhood growth and development,
make sure children have a medical provider, make sure children
have on-time immunizations, assist new parents with concerns,
help with financial management training and link their clients
to community resources.
Those working with Family Connections realize the crucial years
from childbirth to five years of age as the golden years
to make sure children receive the best guidance. When they see
statistics such as three million cases of suspected child abuse
and neglect are reported each year in the United States, they
feel the importance of their job. Each day three children die
from abuse and/or neglect across the country.
Some of the benchmarks noting the progress of Family Connections
are that 100 percent of their clients have: children who have
been fully immunized, families who have a medical provider, pregnant
women receiving assistance accessing primary medical providers
and receive HIV, folic acid, pre-term labor, nutrition, infant
feeding choices, and risky behavior education. Also, 100% of the
pregnant women receive an assessment of risk factors including
;smoking status and tobacco exposure.
Reduced smoking in identified pregnant women is at 45%, with alcohol
use at 60% less, and street drug use reduced by 80% due to the
Their mission is to assist families in reaching their potential
through education and advocacy. DeBurger is afraid if their services
are not available, families will not be able to reach their potential,
which in turn will affect the local and surrounding communities
in a negative manner. We want to build strong families,
To learn more about Family Connections, you can visit www.familyconnections.biz