Next week the Senate Budget Committee is expected to wrap up work on the fiscal year 2017 state budget. The MCC is tracking funding for several programs, including alternatives to abortion services, refugee resettlement assistance, and father responsibility initiatives.
The Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) program provides emergency housing, counseling and many related services to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
The ATA agencies, including those sponsored by the Catholic Church, provide valuable and timely assistance. In fact, many clients later tell the agencies that they would have never carried their baby to term without the help they received.
The experience of the agencies is that women consider abortion not out of malice for their children, but because they see no one who will help them. ATA services may be the most powerful factor in reducing abortion rates in Missouri at this time.
ATA is expected to receive at least $2.1 million in funds for FY 2017, but the amount could be as much as $6 million, depending upon decisions made in the next several weeks by state budget writers.
The MCC is seeking to preserve funding for refugee resettlement services. Over $3 million in federal funds is available but the Missouri General Assembly must appropriate these funds. The funds allow agencies like Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri to help newly arrived refugees adjust to their new home.
Last year the MCC successfully amended welfare reform legislation to require that some of the federal funds available under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program be allocated to address the root causes of poverty, including how fathers are often absent from the family setting and do not play a role in the lives of their children. Budget writers are expected to allocate at least $1.5 million for this new initiative but the amount could be increased by the Senate Budget Committee next week.
Stay tuned for more budget developments in coming updates.