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Back Local News Sanctuary, other youth programs affected by budget cuts

Sanctuary, other youth programs affected by budget cuts

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CUTS in federal grants have impacted much-needed youth service agencies and organizations on the island such as Sanctuary Inc., whose operating budget has shrunk from $3.2 million to $2.5 million.

The cuts have prompted Sanctuary to increase the percentage of their local funding to sustain its programs.

Sanctuary implements a 24-hour crisis intervention service, temporary safe refuge during family conflicts and abuse, as well as supportive counseling, outreach, prevention and education programs.

Representatives of the nonprofit organization confirmed the budget cuts during a roundtable discussion convened by Sen. Michael San Nicolas and the legislative committee on future generations. The hearing covered various government and nonprofit youth service providers.

O.J. Taitano, a program director at Sanctuary, said because of the effects of sequestration, Sanctuary last fiscal year had lost its federal funding of around $584,000.

“We may not get that amount this fiscal year as well,” Taitano warned.

Funding

In fiscal 2012, he said the organization was 60 percent directly funded by federal grants and 40 percent funded by local or direct sources. This current fiscal year, the organization is 70 percent locally funded, according to Taitano.

“Our operating budget has shrunk from $3.2 million for all of our services to $2.5 million. So we have a shortfall of about $1.2 million,” Taitano said.

The budget reduction has decreased the capacity of most of their services, he added.

One of the programs at risk of being eliminated, according to San Nicolas, is Sanctuary’s Transitional Living Program, which helps homeless youth transition into stable environments.

TRIO

University of Guam TRIO Programs Director Yoichi Rengiil said the TRIO Programs are also a “victim of circumstance” as federal cuts have been occurring in various federal agencies nationwide.

TRIO is a 100 percent federally funded program which provides assistance to students so they can complete secondary education and continue to pursue and complete post-secondary education. Qualified students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, are first-generation college-bound, and/or are from low-income households.

Two years ago, Rengiil said the TRIO Programs across the board realized a budget cut of 3.8 percent. This year, funding was further reduced and the program is now operating under a 5.23 percent budget cut. Cumulatively, the program had an almost 10 percent reduction since two years ago.

The cuts, according to Rengiil, have impacted their services and forced the program to do two things. “First, we have reduced the number of students we are funded to serve; and two, if I wish to retain the same number of staff, there is very little room to consider either an annual increment or raise,” he said.

Rengiil cited Upward Bound, one of the programs under their wing, as an example.

“You may think that 10 percent is small, but if you consider a program like Upward Bound which has a $380,000 annual budget, that is still a big chunk of money,” he said.

At risk

San Nicolas said the budgetary environment of the federal government appears to be on a long-term trend to reduce expenses, including the giving out of grant awards.

“We need to be prepared to offset the loss or reduction of federal grants with local support in order to protect and continue critical government and nonprofit services to our community,” he added.

Aside from Sanctuary and UOG’s TRIO Programs, Child Protective Services and the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center are also at risk of service reductions as a result of lower federal grants.

To address this issue, San Nicolas has enlisted the support of the Office of the Attorney General through attorney Carol Sanchez, to begin establishing nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations within government agencies that receive federal grants, in order to boost their ability to generate donation-based revenue.

San Nicolas has also introduced Bill 214-32 (COR) which would require all government of Guam agencies to offer payroll deduction services to 501(c)(3) organizations for their employees so they can donate directly to these nonprofits.

San Nicolas hopes to further expand this payroll deduction drive to include federal employees and the private sector.

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