Foster Parent: Christmas Could Be Less Merry Without County Funds

One of the agencies that would feel the effects of potential budget cuts is the Smith County Child Welfare Board.

It could lose all its funding from the county. While that wouldn't mean kids couldn't find good homes, foster families say it could mean they would lose a Merry Christmas.

"Most of them don't get anything from their biological parent. They might get a little from their foster parent, but when that caseworker walks in the door with a bag of gifts, they're excited," says foster parent of four, Grieta Tallios.

That bag of toys comes from the Smith County Child Welfare Board, which could lose more than $10,000 -- thirty percent of county funding to help these children feel loved.

"Do we not do Christmas? Do we not do allowances? Do we not help with birthdays?" asks Kristi, a supervisor with Child Protective Services.

Parents might have to scrounge to get extra clothes, shoes, school supplies, and more than just one pair of fragile eyeglasses.

Tallios: "Medicare will buy one pair a year, and once that's gone, you are without glasses until you find a way to get them replaced."

Kristi says $15,000 is a Godsend for the kids, but would be a small price for the county to pay.

"A quarter mile of asphalt costs $8,000. Right now, this board, we are asking, 'Can you give up a half mile?' That's what it would take," she says.

The City of Tyler pays the other 70% of the board's funds -- a welfare board that has been helping kids since the 1930s. Now, they might have to look for every dollar they can find.

"What we'll have to do is get some funds from somewhere. I don't know where we'll go, but these children need Christmas," Tallios says.

More than 200 foster children are helped by the welfare board every year. Every time one is placed in a new home, the board also gives $100 to buy new clothes. Greta Tallios says most of the time, the kids arrive with only what they're wearing.

The welfare board will be meeting on Monday to make a decision on what programs will go if the county funds do.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.