Continued reduction in the state Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) budget will mean more days without pay for Madison County staff. County social services workers will now take one day off a month without pay as the state department tries to weather Gov. Sonny Perdue’s mandated budget cuts without having to cut services.

“Everyone takes one day off a month … so it’s not going to effect services to children,” Madison County DFCS director Lisa Plank said.

Originally, that decree only applied to Plank. Now, Plank is asked to take two “furlough days” a month. These furlough days will help cut the state DFCS budget by more than six percent. Perdue has yet to say where he wants state agencies to cut either six or 10 percent from their budgets.

While one day a month without pay might not be the best thing for morale, community services won’t be hurt by this latest order.

“As far as kids being safe and services to families, that’s not going to change,” Plank said.

Initially, the state DFCS department had hoped to reduce its costs by simply not filling positions for staff turnover.

But with tough economic times — and few businesses hiring — few have left their jobs DFCS.

Since the largest line item in the DFCS budget is salaries and social services constitutes the largest department, the state office decided to impose more furlough days there with this second round of cuts.

While it’s certainly not an ideal situation, the furlough days are better than local workers being laid-off.

“It’s really a team work situation that we’re willing to take a day off so somebody doesn’t lose their job on down the road,” Plank said.

She put into perspective how tough times have gotten.

“If this were the private sector, we’d already be laying off or firing people,” Plank said.

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