Employee furloughs could impact child abuse investigations

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- The government shutdown continued throughout Tuesday and it's not only impacting federal agencies, but many Arkansans.

More than 250 Department of Human Services' employees didn't show up for work Tuesday morning because the department told them not to.

Those workers are furloughed through the government shutdown and aren't getting paid; with a large portion of them in the department that investigates child abuse.

It looked like business as usual around the DHS Arkansas state office today, but it comes without saying that decisions in Washington are definitely on the minds of its employees.

"This is an all hands on deck. All of our division directors, our staff, are really trying to get just the information we need so that we can make decision," said Amy Webb with DHS.

Webb added that it's worried about the division of child abuse investigations, especially since the ones who continue to work aren't allowed overtime.

"We're really limiting what they can do, but unfortunately that's the kind of best case scenario we have is to limit their overtime so that we can address this budget issue," Webb said.

Like the day-to-day activities in Washington, impacts of a government shutdown are fluid at DHS. With each hour it's learning more, and passing days could bring additional negative impacts.

"We're a safety net agency and we know that a lot of people depend on us, and especially some really vulnerable populations like children who are abused, or people who are in the nursing homes," Webb added. "This has really hampered our ability to help those populations and that's really concerning to us."

When it comes to federal agencies learning about how the government shutdown affects them, one division got some positive news today: WIC.

Governor Mike Beebe said while the subject remains fluid, the WIC program will continue in Arkansas.

"(It) was going to be discontinued today. Then, we find a couple of hours later that there's enough money to keep it going for a couple of weeks," Beebe said Tuesday morning.

"That's just one example of how it's effecting people, but you know that the people that were laid off, that were furloughed, don't have a paycheck."

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