The Jackson branch of Community Entry Services (CES), which helps care for local adults living with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries, is facing serious funding challenges.
CES has been operating locally for 42 years and is the only organization in Jackson that provides the kind of services it offers. But now, Program Director Carolyn Worth said the organization requires emergency funding from the Town of Jackson and Teton County in order to maintain the level of care her clientele is used to.
“In a month from now, [we] are going to have 10 positions open out of our 16,” Worth said, speaking Monday during a joint information meeting for town and county officials. “We are going to be forced to make some very difficult decisions that could include drastic cuts in programming, consolidating our group homes and, in the absolute worst-case scenario, discharging clients.”
CES currently has only enough funding to pay employees $15 an hour, which Worth said is not nearly enough in an area with such an expensive cost of living. That’s why she’s asking for $89,000 in emergency cash so the organization can offer workers $20 an hour through June 30, the end of their fiscal year.
“Really, we do need to start this by Jan. 1, so services aren’t disrupted,” Worth said. “CES has been very conservative in our ask from town and county, and we will continue to only ask for what we need.”
Worth said the CES program budget was slashed 2.5% last year at the state level, which is its main source of funding, and the organization faces the same percentage of potential cuts this year. In a letter sent to local elected officials, she also said CES can’t legally can’t offset funding cuts with price increases for their clients. At the same time, demand for CES services is increasing, and a recent study found that the State of Wyoming’s support system for individuals living with developmental disabilities is underfunded by $21 million.
“We will soon be receiving applications from dozens of young adults with disabilities aging out of the school system who will need our services in the near future,” Worth wrote.
Following Worth’s letter and public comment on Monday, members of the Jackson Town Council directed their staff to look into the budget implications of her request. Worth said she’s never asked for emergency funding before during her tenure at CES and that she is anxiously awaiting the town and county’s response.
CES did receive a $500,000 anonymous donation in Oct., but this was a specific gift related to the organization’s mortgage at their headquarters in East Jackson. That money cannot be allocated toward this cause.
Editor’s Note 12/10: We’ve updated our story to make the specifics of the anonymous donation given to CES back in Oct. a bit clearer.