HSCR, other entities meet to discuss budget cuts

High Sky Children's Ranch, Inc. in Midland opened its doors in 1963 under the direction of a concerned citizen, Joan Nobles, as a home for girls who had no place to go. In 1985, they changed their license to accept both boys and girls, enabling them to keep sibling groups together. High Sky was re-licensed yet again in 1987 as a treatment facility to work with more traumatized, higher level of care children and later as a therapeutic foster care. The programs provide a structure with life skills as well as therapeutic services. Their programs are designed to help troubled children and families. Some of those services include Therapeutic Foster Care, Community Foster Care, Stay Together Runaway Prevention, PAL (Preparation for Adult Living) and LIFE (Living Independently, Financially and Emotionally), Eagles and Abell-Hanger Emergency Shelters.High Sky Children’s Ranch is dedicated to healing abused children and promoting family wholeness.Over eight years ago the STAR program had started in Sweetwater. The Services To At-Risk Youth (STAR) programs were developed by the state child welfare agency in 1983 to help local communities serve youth who often fall between the cracks of other service delivery systems. The purpose of STAR is to prevent child abuse, truancy and delinquent behaviors by helping young people and their families resolve conflict, build on their strengths and achieve healthy goals. Services are designed to intervene at the front end, often in crisis situations such as when a child runs away, to prevent problems from escalating further and requiring intervention by Child Protective Services or juvenile justice systems.Adolph Knabe is the Family Services Director of High Sky Children's Ranch and his main goal at this point is to get the word out to the Legislator, especially in the Nolan County area. Knabe mentioned, "With Susan King, and Robert Duncan on both sides of the parties, they are definitely the ones to get a hold of about these changes and where they can help."Knabe did bring up a couple of possible solutions in which the state of Texas might be open to. "The Rainy Day fund, or possibly tax increases on items such as tobacco, alcohol and or sugar beverage items."There is a new coalition of Texans today, Texas Forward (www.txforward.org). They are trying to urge the Legislature to spend all of the Rainy Day Fund as a balanced approach to bridging the state's anticipated revenue shortfall and fueling new economic growth. The Rainy Day Fund is expected to have an estimated $9 billion available for spending in the 2012-13 budget, which would at least put a dent into the state of Texas' budget, "dollars to dollars" an estimated $15 billion on the negative currently for the state of Texas.Texas Forward, whose 37-member organizations represent educators, health and human services non-profits and others dedicated to better lives for all Texans, believes this is not the time to cure budgetary problems with cuts alone. Texas children and their families need more help, not less, in these difficult economic times.Currently the High Sky Children's Ranch STAR offers services to youth and families. Services include established curriculum, in-home visits, workshops, 24-Hour crisis intervention, short term emergency shelter and UCAP (Universal Child Abuse Prevention Services). Other key components are preventive services that are available in all 254 counties in Texas. Youth and families can access these services without the involvement of other agencies. STAR is a valuable support service to other agencies and programs seeking help for the youth and families that they work with. High Sky Children's Ranch STAR offices are located in Midland, Tom Green, Brewster, Hudspeth, Nolan and Scurry counties.Knabe mentioned, "The average cost of serving a youth and their family through STAR is less than $700. STAR can serve more than 193 youth for the price of serving one youth in TYC (Texas Youth Commission). STAR can serve more than 56 youth for the price of serving one youth in foster care. The emotional costs of serving a youth and his or her family through STAR are obviously miniscule compared to the emotional costs of serving the youth and his or her family through the foster care or justice systems."High Sky Children's Ranch is very beneficial for troubled children and families as well as for the community. They have been a solution for years on controlling troubled issues with teens and even family matters before they get out of control. This is a last step before the state gets involved into these situations, which in turn saves the state and community thousands of dollars every year. With state budget cuts into organizations such as these. It could possibly bring the state even deeper into debt a few years down the road.