Western Slope Center for Children sees funding crisis

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- The Western Slope Center for Children is burdened with a funding crisis.

After cuts from the county and losing support from an area organization, the child center has fallen nearly $40,000 short of their budget.

An alarming number of child abuse cases are being reporting to the Western Slope Center for Children, the number growing higher every year.

Over the past four years, the Western Slope Center for Children has seen a more than a 50-percent increase in the number of child abuse cases coming through their doors.

More children means a need for more resources, but funding issues are leaving the center concerned for their future, and for the children they serve.

“Ensuring that we have the funds to operate is just vital,” said Melissa Lytle with the Western Slope Center for Children. “That's how we can continue to provide the services we have for children and families."

WSCC said there is a multitude of reasons why funding this year is lacking. They’re not in fear of shutting their doors permanently, but instead they worry they may have to cut programs that help children in some of their darkest hours.

“I think some of the worry would potentially be having to cut back on some of the programming that we have increased over the years—which we don't want to do,” Lytle said. “We want to move forward, not pull back."

The Mesa County Department of Human Services originally cut funding for the center, but decided to explore new ways to keep this vital resource up and running.

“It will be a case-by-case basis where they will be able to bill us for whatever services they provide to the children and families we serve in our community,” said Kari Daggett, with DHS Child Welfare Services.

Other organizations are also stepping up with donations and funding. The Western Colorado Community Foundation gave the WSCC $10,000 upon hearing about their funding crisis.

"I think the kiddos are probably just the bravest little beings in the world to come forth,” said Tedi Gillespie with the Western Colorado Community Foundation. “And so we want to do everything in our power to make sure they get everything they need to help them heal.”

Gillespie said they have seen more non-profits in need of funding lately, which may be one reason why the Western Slope Center for Children has lost some of their community support.

More organizations have to pick and choose who they can fund, and who they cannot.

The Western Slope Center for Children said it always accept donations, and will have a few upcoming events in October to raise money to keep their services up and running.

Organizers hope to one day also expand their building, as they have hired more staff to keep up with their growing need.

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