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October 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM

DSHS chief outlines potentially deep cuts to social services

Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Susan Dreyfus met with nearly 300 social service providers, families in need, recovering addicts and other DSHS clients in Seattle today to discuss potentially deep program cuts at the agency.

Dreyfus, who last week announced that she’s leaving DSHS for a job close to her family in the Midwest, told the crowd that she finds some of the possible reductions “unconscionable.” But she added, “cuts are a necessary part of this.”

Some audience members held up signs protesting reductions to chemical dependency treatment. Many in the audience appeared frustrated.

The crowd gathered at Saint Mark’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill to hear Dreyfus outline the agency’s budget outlook and to share their stories with her.

The state faces a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall and Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked all major agencies to submit plans reflecting both 5 percent and 10 cuts. DSHS could end up slashing more than $573 million in state funding; the agency is preparing to lose another $300 million in federal funding, Dreyfus said.

Since July 2009, DSHS officials say they have reduced state and federal spending by $2.2 billion. Ninety percent of the cuts have been to programs that benefit children, families, the elderly, the disabled and other clients.

Dreyfus said the budget reductions  have forced her and other DSHS leaders  to focus solely on the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“Persons whose poverty, age, health, disability or language leaves them unable to care for themselves and susceptible to physical, emotional or financial exploitation,” Dreyfus said.

Comments | More in General news, Government | Topics: DSHS, social services, State budget

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