Nine organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri and Rainbow House, are in the process of applying for city funding of their youth assistance programs. Several of these organizations had applied for funding from Columbia but not Boone County, even though the county has significantly more money to give.
Each year since 2008, the city has had about a quarter of a million dollars available for providing funding to child services programs. Meanwhile, in November 2012, a voter-approved proposition created the Putting Kids First sales tax, which generates approximately $6.5 million annually for a similar fund. The tax came into effect in 2013 but the money generated is just now being allocated to different organizations.
Steve Hollis is the human services manager for the City’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. He says the department staff and the city’s Human Services Commission recommended that organizations apply for county funding for children and family services whenever possible because of its much larger budget.
“The commission and city council opted to keep funding children and family services despite the fact there’s now this large amount of funding … available just for children and families,” Hollis said. “I think what you see in these proposals is agencies either applying for services that aren’t eligible for the county funding or supplementing the same services.”
Deborah Beste is the executive director of Phoenix Health Programs, an organization currently applying for city funding for a teen substance abuse intervention program and county funding for a prevention program. She said her organization split the funding requests between the city and county because she felt it improved their chances of getting both approved.
“I can understand the city’s interest in finding out ‘Hey if we’re funding this with city money and there’s this larger, much larger, pool of county money, why wouldn’t you ask them to fund it?’ and so my strategy … is rather than to take both programs to them, if they are only going to fund one, I’d like to get our foot in the door with some solid prevention because the city doesn’t pay for prevention programs”
Representatives from other programs said they didn’t apply to the county because they didn’t know about the county fund or because they didn’t meet qualifications for the funding. Several organizations applied for both city and county funding.