Anchorage – More than 220 children statewide will lose vital early education and more than 500 people will lose supportive housing services currently provided by Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP), a statewide nonprofit, as a result of the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2020 state budget.
“More than one-third of our Head Start facilities will close,” said Kristin Ramstad, RurAL CAP Child Development Division Director. “This will cut crucial services from children and their families throughout the state.”
For RurAL CAP, the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget cuts result in nearly a $5.5 million reduction in funding to essential programming and staff positions provided by the agency statewide.
Impacts of the budget cuts spread from the termination of services that support low-income children and their families to the closure of additional supportive housing facilities, Safe Harbor and Sitka Place. These facilities offer services to individuals and families suffering from chronic homelessness, mental illness and physical disabilities. Children, families and individuals in supportive housing have access to 24/7 tenancy support, case management, skill development and clinical services for substance abuse treatment, therapy and behavioral health assessments.
The cuts in these services result in the elimination of staff positions for direct care and support services statewide, ultimately terminating more than 80 existing jobs between the Child Development and Supportive Housing Divisions and further weakening the economy of rural Alaska.
“Gov. Dunleavy’s prioritization of corrections funding, expanding the number of prison beds, is short-sighted,” said Patrick M. Anderson, RurAL CAP Chief Executive Officer. “We already know that access to early childhood education and academic engagement is linked to reduced rates of delinquency, violence and crime.”
The state budget overlooks the economic benefit of prevention and health and wellness services. The decision to defund critical community services will undercut our community’s efforts to protect vulnerable populations and particularly impacts children and rural Alaskans, according to Anderson.
Governed by a 24-member Board of Directors representing the public sector, the private sector, and the different regions of rural Alaska, RurAL CAP is a private, statewide, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. With a mission to empower low-income Alaskans through advocacy, education, affordable housing and direct services that respect Alaskan’s unique values and cultures, RurAL CAP collaborates with community partners to ensure that all Alaskans have access to the vital services needed to promote the vision of Healthy People, Sustainable Communities, Vibrant Cultures.