By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY (May 11, 2012) – This week, the children of Alabama, gained another guardian. Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) insured that vital dollars dedicated to state agencies through the Children First Trust Fund were kept intact.
The Children First Trust Fund dollars come from the national tobacco settlement – the funds are neither tax money nor federal dollars. The Governor’s proposed budget re-appropriated funding within the Children First Trust Fund which could have lasting effects on children’s services.
The proposal would have moved all of the money from the Department of Youth Services (DYS) over to Department of Juvenile Probation Services (AOC). A move that would have hindered DYS’s ability to provide services to youths.
Senator Orr, Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, kept the Children First Trust Fund in its original formula. Orr wishes to keep the Trust Fund as is until the necessary research can be conducted to learn what effects these budget changes would have on the state’s children. This research will be conducted by the Legislative leadership and should begin in the fall.
“In such a challenging economic climate, Chairman Orr has displayed his dedication to insuring that the state put its children first – his wisdom will help all Alabamians,” stated Christy Mehaffey, Executive Director of Children First Foundation.
The DYS provides community-based programs for non-violent youth offenders. Its goal is to try to intervene and rehabilitate. The AOC handles juvenile probations officers.
According to their website, “Children First Foundation is a non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of Alabama’s children and families by shaping public policy. The Foundation was formed because the states’ leaders and child advocates saw a need to advocate for children in the halls of Alabama’s legislature.” Children First protects the Children First Trust Fund each year that provides twelve state agencies with the dollars they need to serve children.
Through this move to protect funding for children, Senator Orr, hopes to insure that services will still be delivered to over 350,000 children in need. The bill now moves back to the House for concurrence and then on to Governor Bentley for his signature.
For more information on the Children First Foundation go to: