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Apr 13, 2014 8:30 PM by Nathan O'Neal

State budget has child welfare advocates worried

TUCSON - The 10th annual March for Children drew crowds of people in an effort to spread awareness of child abuse prevention. This comes at a time when future funding for the state's child welfare program remains in flux.

The march was held at Reid Park which focuses on the good contributions that the community - and individuals - made on the child welfare system.

Lance Meeks is a former CPS Case Manager who was honored by 17-year-old Obed Rodriguez, who lost both of his parents.

"You know you can see someone who they are by looking at them. You can see whether they're going to be fake or going to be true to what the cause is... and Mr. Meeks has this look that says he's going to be a devoted part of the program," Rodriguez said.

Casa de los Ninos C.E.O. Susie Huhn stresses the importance of recognizing the positive contributions to the child welfare program, especially when the community has seen several high-profile child abuse cases in the past few months.

"It's critical right now because our child welfare program is in a state of crisis in our state," Huhn said.

State lawmakers passed a budget earlier this week which denied Gov. Jan Brewer the full funding she requested to create a new Department of Child Welfare and Family Services. Roughly $59 million was budgeted for the program as opposed to the $80 million that was requested to overhaul CPS.

"Having an overhaul is a great thing and I'm thrilled and support our governor with that but if it's not properly funded then we're still not facing the issue," Huhn said, adding that she is hoping for a special session in the Legislature this year to revisit the budgeting issues.

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