The pace at which the special session came together has led to confusion for lawmakers and state government, trickling down to the organizations and people who provide services to the public.

When Gov. Steve Bullock released his shortened list of cuts a week ago, it included something called the Family Education and Support Program, with a cut to its general funding of $143,000 in fiscal year 2018 and $287,000 in fiscal year 2019.

But family education providers, who serve roughly 700 people ages 3 to 21 statewide, said they did not understand how the cut would work since the program is financed with a $4 million Social Security Block Grant and $278,000 in annual state funding.

On Tuesday, just hours before Gov. Steve Bullock announced his cuts would be implemented immediately instead of after the special session wraps up,  the Department of Public Health and Human Services clarified that the program would not be cut.

The correct reduction, which will now be implemented, cuts the general fund component of the program, retaining the $4 million dollars in Title XX for the program.

Providers who had struggled to get clarification from the health department were greatly relieved Tuesday. 

The Family and Educational Support Program is a companion to the state-run Early Childhood Intervention Program, which was also slated for elimination under the first round of cuts Bullock proposed totaling $227 million.

While Early Childhood Intervention received hefty attention when it was proposed for elimination, the program for older children did not, even though it provides similar services aimed at helping school-aged children gain life skills that could help them remain in school and gain the skills necessary for independent living later in life.

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