President Trump has proposed an 18% cut in federal funding to state Departments of Human and Social Services agencies across the country.
The cuts will disproportionately affect low-income residents in Delaware.
One example is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides $650 in supplemental heating and cooling benefits to low-income seniors, those with disabilities and others.
“We just can’t imagine how they would go without such necessary needs during the summer and winter," said Renee Beaman, Director of the Division of State Service Centers.
Beaman says 13,000 First State families would miss out on this benefit if the program loses its $12.5 million in annual federal funding.
$3.7 million in Community Service Block Grant funding is also on the chopping block. That money goes to the First State Community Action Agency – which provides over 20 programs to help raise residents out of poverty.
“We see people who move up but there’s always new people coming in," said First State Community Action Agency Executive Director Bernice Edwards.
10,000 individuals and 2,500 families statewide currently take advantage of her agency’s services, ranging emergency eviction and mortgage foreclosure prevention to case management and prison reentry services.
Edwards she says her staff is already doing more with less, and any cuts would be devastating, especially for low-income senior staff. Without federal funding, only very limited services would remain.
DHSS’s volunteer programs – like Foster Grandparents – also stand to lose funding.
Beaman says over 100 First State schools receive Foster Grandparents to tutor at-risk kids. That programming could disappear without federal dollars.
And there's no contingency plan, either.
“So these programs – if they are eliminated – they are reaching vulnerable populations," Beaman said. "And the current status of the state – the state cannot backfill – we don’t have the millions of dollars to keep them going.”