Originally created 05/11/05

Child service agency faces money woes



Kids Restart is in need of a jump start.

The local nonprofit organization - which provides services to children in protective custody and their families - recently lost a large chunk of state money, meaning it has to come up with $25,000 to $35,000 to stay afloat.

Operational for the past six years, Kids Restart offers parenting classes to at-risk mothers and fathers, mandatory seminars for soon-to-be-divorced couples with children, and supervised visits between children in foster care and their birth relatives.

Without Kids Restart, all these services would revert back to the Richmond County Department of Family and Children's Services, which "really has enough to do," said Gay Wright, Kids Restart's former executive director.

She said the nonprofit group had been receiving more than half its funding from the state through the Children's Trust Fund. When the fund switched focus to sponsoring statewide programs, Kids Restart lost its eligibility.

"Not that we need to be on some campaign to get that money back, but we do need to work really hard to replace it," Ms. Wright said.

Kids Restart is asking for about $80,000 in federal money through the program Promoting Safe and Stable Families. The catch is that a 25 percent match is required to make the federal amount stick.

In the past, state money could "pour over" to meet the matching requirement, but without those dollars, community support is essential, Ms Wright said.

The agency hopes to make $6,000 off three fund-raisers in May and June. Technically, the deadline to secure the matching funds is Oct. 1, but the goal is to at least have a considerable sum then.

Visitation Director Daniela Higgins said the weekly supervised visits Kids Restart provides are more structured and personal than the twice-monthly visits offered at DFCS.

"They don't have the time to prepare the activities, but that's all we do, so we can," she said. "We also offer hands-on parenting; we're right there so we can comment on the spot if they're doing something wrong."

Since the funding loss, Kids Restart has had to cut back on its supervised visits and parenting classes and phase out its child advocacy program.

One thing supervisors say they will not do is quit giving youngsters rides to the center.

"The visits can't happen without the transportation, so we'll keep that up," Ms. Wright said.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

Fund-raising Events

Munching For Kids: Pay $10 for a lunch at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 2832 Washington Road, from noon to 2 p.m. May 26. Purchase a ticket by May 24.

Drive For Kids: Golf tournament for four-person teams at Gordon Lake Golf Course. There's a shotgun start at 8 a.m. June 17. You must sign up by June 14.

Pull For Kids: Trap shoot with lunch included beginning at 9 a.m. June 25 at Pinetucky Gun Club in Augusta. You must sign up by June 20.To get more information about any of these events or to make a donation, call Kids Restart at 828-0180.