Some changes will be happening at the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office in Richmond Hill as a result of a lack of state funding.
Starting Sept. 22, the South Bryan branch of DFCS is cutting back hours from 40 to 28 hours a week, "due to inadequate staffing at the office due to state revenue shortfalls for staff allocation."
DFCS County Director Stanley Walthour said the new operational hours have been in the planning stages for quite some time already and finding someone to work the front office has been an issue.
"Bryan County is peculiar in that we have two DFACS offices, where most counties only have one," Walthour said, noting it’s because of the county’s geography.
Walthour said while the county is considered Class 2 – meaning it is smaller and receives the same funding as all other Class 2 counties – the average Class 2 county only has one DFCS office.
"We have to spread out the Class 2 state allocation between two offices," he said. "I don’t know how many times we pleaded our case that, because of our dynamics, we needed two offices. But the state only looks at our classification."
Walthour said the new hours are "probably long overdue" because the staff has been "overworked and overstressed." The loss of 12 operational hours will make it more manageable while still keeping the office open every day, he said.
But state budget restrictions and suspensions are making even the day to day operations difficult.
"We’ve been put on a 90-day restriction of buying supplies. I may have to check with surrounding counties to try and find out if they have any to spare. We can also see if the county will offer up any money during this 90-day ‘moratorium’ which restricts us," he said. "Traveling has also been suspended and we’ve been instructed to do conference calls for just about everything."
Regionally, the Coastal Health District said they have not been experiencing any major issues as a result of state cuts, according to Public Relations Information Manager Sally Silbermann.
"The CHD is doing all it can to make sure all state directives are being followed," she said. "I know across the board everyone is trying to watch what they spend."
See more of this story in Wednesday's Bryan County News.