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The federal budget just passed by Congress contained a nasty surprise for Utah child welfare services and for county "pass-through" programs that receive grants from the Department of Human Services.

Although some programs got increased funds, the Title 20 social services block grant, which counties use to provide local services, and child welfare programs share a $2.3 million cut.Because the FY96 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, just signed by the president, is retroactive to October 1995 and many of the services have already been provided, the cuts will be deeper in the next few months to make up the difference, said Fred Weidner of the Department of Human Services.

Although they had prepared for cuts in other areas, "we didn't see this coming," he said.

"We have to make it up through efficiencies like not filling vacancies and by not acquiring equipment. And we'll have the same problem next year," said Mike Dale, a spokesman for Human Services.