I have a rant to get off my chest. Hope some of you will indulge me for a while.
First, a little background. I am the director of a small non-profit organization here in St. Paul where our mission is to work with kids who are starting to get in trouble and try to keep them out of the system. One of the services we provide is to work with kids who have been arrested for the first time as an alternative to going to court. And we are pretty successful, if I do say so myself. Only about 6% of the 400-500 kids we serve every year wind up re-offending.
We get a very small amount of federal money to do this work – about $36,000. Today a woman came in to do an audit of that funding. Since one of the purposes of the money is to serve low income families, we have gotten used to the fact that we have to ask parents to fill out a form identifying household size and income. Its a little invasive, but we have been able to manage.
Well today, this woman tells me that we not only need to ask parents to provide this information – we need to have procedures in place to verify the accuracy of the information parents provide!!! This means that we would need to get copies of their pay stubs.
And to make matters worse, she is worrying about the fact that some of the forms asking for this information are obviously not filled out accurately. We start talking about the difficulty of doing this for some of the parents we serve. For example:
What does household size mean – how many people were living here today or yesterday? Do I include my sister and her kids who just moved in with us today because her husband/boyfriend was beating her up?
What does household size mean for my son who lives with me half the week and the other half with his father?
What if I am illiterate? Since I’ve never met these people before, do I dare tell them that I can’t read the form – or do I just fake it?
As I described all of these challenges to this woman, she responded by asking me if it would help us to get training on how to implement use of the funding!!! I just wanted to scream at her – NO, YOU FUCKERS NEED TRAINING ON WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO SERVE LOW-INCOME PEOPLE AND STOP HARRASING THOSE OF US WHO ACTUALLY DO IT!!!
Well, the result of all of this is that we will probably loose that $36,000 of federal funding because I WILL NOT ask people to produce pay stubs to prove that they are low income in order to be served.
And while Halliburton and the pentagon continue to be unable to account for billions of our tax dollars, the small fries like us will be punished and we’ll have to figure out if we can continue providing this program to the kids and families in our community. DAMN THEM!!!