ETCH budget slashed

By Greg Miller
star staff

  Since East Tennessee Christian Home (ETCH) no longer receives state funds, its budget has been slashed.
  With 20-24 youngsters, the state provided half of the nearly $600,000 annual budget. Without that funding, some employees were reduced to half-time or part-time. Some houseparents were dismissed.
  Church contributions are now even more important for ETCH, which now trains foster families and places children in those families. "We have the income from churches still coming in, and we're continuing to encourage churches to keep us in their budgets," Dutka said. "We've also encouraged them for the past year to realize that this was going to happen, because a lot of churches didn't want us with the state of Tennessee, but losing that budget means that we need more churches to pitch in, or we need the churches that are helping now to increase their giving."
  Staff reduction "doesn't affect the children at this point too much because the number of children has been reduced. The budget that we have now will allow us to care for eight children that are on campus. So what we want to is start building with the eight that we have, and we're going to admit eight girls, because we have to keep it one sex. We're reduced to one building at this point in time, so that means one set of houseparents. We can't have four girls and four boys because we would have to have two sets of houseparents and that inflates the budget.
  "When we get the campus full with the girls that we can handle and we have our houseparents in and the church donations increase, then we can start opening a facility for the boys again and hire a new set of houseparents. We have to take it slowly, one step at a time, because we're without state income.
  "We're speaking to the churches on a regular basis, letting them know. We're sending out literature. We're trying to come up with major fund-raising issues, but we're not looking for the big-time fund-raiser. It's great to have a big-time hit and raise a lot of money at one point, but what we're really looking for is for the consistent monthly donations to increase so that we can depend on that and know what our budget is going to be so that we can comfortably increase our operation."
  Most of the area Christian Churches and Churches of Christ financially support ETCH. Dutka said about 80 of the approximately 130 churches that contribute to ETCH are in this area. Individuals, businesses and civic organizations also contribute.
  For more information, call 542-4423.