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CHINS program coming back after Hassan signs bipartisan bill

A state program that for years provided a safety net for troubled youth will be back this fall.

Gov. Maggie Hassan on Tuesday signed legislation restoring the Children in Need of Services program, effective Sept. 1. In a statement, she called it “critical to helping our at-risk young people and keeping our communities safe.”

The CHINS program provided counseling and support services to truants, runaways and children with serious behavioral issues. It was all but eliminated in 2011 due to budget cuts, though it continued to serve a few dozen children considered the most dangerous cases.

Restoring CHINS was a priority this year for Hassan and lawmakers. The bill signed this week restores services for truants and runaways, and allows parents to access those services through a voluntary process as well as a court-ordered process.

It passed the Republican-led Senate on a 24-0 vote, and the Democratic-led House on a voice vote.

The two-year state budget that took effect July 1 contains about $8.2 million a year for the program, according to Hassan’s office.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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