Travis County programs ponder a future without funding

Travis County Cuts: A future without funding

Juvenile Probation, Family Violence Outreach and Veteran's Court. These are just some of the programs in jeopardy following Governor Greg Abbott's decision earlier this year.

Abbott pulled $1.8 million in funding to Travis County after a debate with Sheriff Sally Hernandez over the county's "sanctuary city" status.

Associate Judge Aurora Martinez Jones presides over the Family Drug Treatment Court in Travis County, which helps parents form plans to kick their addictions and keep custody of their kids. 

Nine years in, the Parents in Recovery program is so successful that state lawmakers used it as a model for a bill that could overhaul the state's Child Protective Services program.

Judge Martinez Jones was concerned when she learned that Abbott was pulling funding from her program as well as six others. 

"It's a whole community of people that are very vulnerable and need this help," Martinez Jones said. "I really am discouraged it's come to this."

Her program has lost its OOG, or Office of the Governor, grant of $145,456. The grant funded a key piece of the recovery puzzle: frequent and random drug testing.

"That's where the accountability comes in and that's where we're able to help the parents stay sober so they can start working on real, serious recovery," Martinez Jones added.

A smaller program actually started by a mandate from Abbott in 2013 is also on the list.

The Phoenix Court has eight thriving, successful graduates; women with criminal records who were involved in some sort of sexual exploitation.

Judge Mike Denton said, "While you and I can't imagine the life they've led, by giving them this kind of support we allow them to imagine a new life, so much better."

Denton says he won't quit even if the grant, which totals $214,357, goes away.

"The housing, the treatment, it pays for that," Denton explained. "And we'd have to come up with other sources to do that. It will be difficult but because...the outcome is so good, we're gonna keep trying."

The Travis County Commissioners Court is helping keep the programs afloat, but it's not clear how long they'll be able to do so. They plan to discuss their next steps in early May.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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