Increased Need and Decreased Budgets – Not the Recipe for Efficiency

A brief from the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute highlights fallout from the trend of states slashing human service budgets at a time when programs are experiencing an increase in participation.  Data from the University of Baltimore indicate the workload grew by 45 percent at some state social service programs between 2002 and 2010 – the same years a hiring freeze and subsequent cuts were implemented. The irony for families who have been waiting weeks or months for emergency aid to be approved is that the same economic woes that led to their need for temporary assistance also led to the elimination of program case managers and staff.

In Maryland, the results of an all cuts budget on such programs are a reduction in staff training, reliance on antiquated information technology systems, an increased workload and uneven distribution of staff.  While trimming the budgetary fat and eliminating waste should be encouraged across ALL departments, the report links cuts to delays and errors in determining program eligibility, as well as other inefficiencies.

As Pennsylvania’s budget is also an all cuts piece of legislation at a time of increasing need, this report may foretell what we will experience as the unintended (I hope) consequences of such measures. How is your nonprofit meeting the challenge of serving more people with fewer resources? Has efficiency suffered due to lack of staff, training or technological resources?

The complete brief, Report Shows Several Local Departments do Social Services Dramatically Understaffed: Nearly 1100 Family Investment Staff Needed to Manage Workload, is available at the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute’s web page.