Digging deep for kids

Kudos to county probation for restoring Boys & Girls Clubs’ funds

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the North Valley, in providing a safe haven to youth, offer an invaluable benefit to the community. So we couldn’t help but feel disappointment when the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted to cut $190,000 from the Probation Department’s allocation for the organization, leaving just $46,000 for fiscal year 2016-17. (See “Austerity wins, programs lose,” Newslines, June 29.)

However, the supervisors left a glimmer of hope, allowing Chief Probation Officer Steve Bordin 60 days to secure additional funding. Bordin and his staff combed through the department budget and identified $162,400 they could shift to the Boys & Girls Clubs contract. Approval came at the last Board of Supervisors meeting, Aug. 22, so the nonprofit will get $208,400 from the county—a net difference of $27,600 from last year.

The windfall comes from several line items. The department had state money to buy a new vehicle; instead, with permission, it redirected that $54,650. Probation’s case management system got delivered early, freeing up $75,400 budgeted for 2016-17. Probation also transferred $30,000 in funds unclaimed by contractors for past work or goods, plus shaved $2,350 from miscellaneous operating expenses.

At the original budget hearing in June, Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Rashell Brobst said she’d have to lay off 10 staff members and turn away 200 kids from after-school programs. Now, she told the CN&R on Tuesday (Aug. 29), the nonprofit will “keep services as usual” while fundraising to plug the gap.

We agree with Brobst’s assertion that her organization is “not just a charity”—it’s a service provider, “meeting needs that the county can’t.” We agree, too, that grants and government funding are “soft money”—ephemeral, not sources of long-term stability. Nonetheless, kudos to the county for digging deeper to help kids in need.