State child welfare agency projects $18M budget deficit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s child welfare agency predicts it will spend $18.3 million more than is budgeted for the current fiscal year.

The Providence Journal reports that the projected deficit was contained in a recent quarterly report from Department of Children, Youth and Families head Trista Piccola to the state budget office.

Piccola says all but $500,000 of the additional spending is due to increases in caseloads and to expensive treatment services required for some of the children the agency oversees.

Agency spokeswoman Kerri White says at the start of the current fiscal year last July, the department projected it would have about 1,500 children in foster care and another 315 in hospital care or group homes. Both those numbers ended up being higher than expected.

The agency’s annual budget was $228 million.

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