What’s in a Budget?
As many of you know, Hillsides has a fiscal year that starts on October 1. As a result, the summer months are busy with budget preparations in order to have a proposed budget presented to Hillsides Board of Directors in early September. In spite of the financial woes in California, we anticipate the same level of public funding we received this past year. Given some of those funds are inadequate to meet our needs and staff costs and other expenses continue to rise, preparing a budget during these months can make for a long, hot summer in more ways than one.
In the midst of the preliminary budget drafts, setting priorities, examining efficiencies and making difficult decisions, I usually take a break from the budget exercise to walk the campus to remind myself why we make this effort. Inevitably, I come back energized and committed to somehow stretching the dollars to allow us to continue to serve some of the most vulnerable children and families in Los Angeles County.
One evening after a Finance Committee meeting as I was leaving the meeting room, one of our clinicians was waiting with a resident and her family to use the room for a counseling session. I know the challenges of this young girl, who one day recently was so despondent that she could barely contain herself in any one place and wandered restlessly around the campus with staff in tow walking off her anxiety. As they entered the room, I asked her how she was doing and had the opportunity to meet her parents and speak with them about her treatment. As always, they spoke of how appreciative they are for all we do for them and how in spite of some setbacks, were pleased with her progress and hopeful about her return home at some point.
It is not easy to provide such intensive treatment; it is expensive to have a child accompanied all day with a staff member. Reaching out to parents and providing them with counsel and support is essential. These efforts may be expensive and certainly are labor intensive, but the end result is all worthwhile. Though this young girl will continue in our care for the immediate future, she and her family are able to see a path that will lead her home with hope for a good life together.
Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. Is it worth the sacrifice? No question about it. And so in spite of the short fall in public funding, our efforts to successfully raise $2.5 million each year to augment our public funding sources is essential if we hope to continue to help these vulnerable children, youth and their families find their way to a fuller life.
As we have in the past, we build into our budget the continued capacity to raise private dollars to maintain our mission. Please consider supporting this effort by contributing to our annual fund. Know that your generous support makes a big difference in the lives of all we serve. Thank you!