Board of Social Services

MINUTES

August 3, 2009

 

Commissioners’ Conference Room

Second Floor – County Administration Building

10:00 am - Noon

 

 

Attendance

 

Kathay Rennels, Larimer County Commissioner, District 1, Board Chair

Tom Donnelly, Larimer County Commissioner, District 3

Steve Johnson, Larimer County Commissioner, District 2

Ginny Riley, Director, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Glen Rathgeber, Deputy Director, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Jim Drendel, Division Manager – Children, Youth & Family Division, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Marsha Ellis, Division Manager – Benefits Planning Division, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Ruth Long, Division Manager – Adult & Child Supportive Services, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Nancy Salazar, Deputy Division Manager – Adult & Child Supportive Services, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Laura Walker, Human Resources Generalist, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Eileen Brittingham, Executive Assistant, Larimer County Department of Human Services

Alice Williamson, Executive Assistant, Larimer County Department of Human Services

 

 

Call to Order and Introductions

 

Commissioner Rennels called the meeting to order and asked all attendees to introduce themselves for the listening audience.

 

 

Additions to the Agenda

 

Commissioner Rennels asked Ms. Riley to update the Board regarding projected State budget cuts which may impact delivery of services to clients.

 

Ms. Riley requested that the Governor’s Child Welfare Action Committee and Changes at Child Welfare in Larimer County agenda item be moved to the first item on the agenda.

 

 

Introduction of Nancy Salazar, Deputy Division Manager, Adult & Child Supportive Services Division – Ruth Long

 

Before introducing Ms. Salazar, Ruth Long, Division Manager – Adult & Child Supportive Services, Larimer County Department of Human Services, stated that for the last two years, Larimer County’s Child Supportive Services Division has been named the Outstanding Large County for the State of Colorado by the Family Support Council.

 

Ms. Salazar introduced herself, gave a brief history of her work experience/
background, and stated she planned to continue the Division’s great progression and outstanding work.

 

 

continued on next page


 

 

Governor’s Child Welfare Action Committee and Changes at Child Welfare in Larimer County – Commissioner Rennels and Jim Drendel

 

Jim Drendel, Division Manager – Children, Youth & Family Division, Larimer County Department of Human Services, announced that budget reductions and changes have affected approximately 16 child welfare positions. Eight positions – 5 regular employees who have been offered other positions within Human Services and 3 temporary employees whose jobs have been eliminated – are from the CYF Division; the remaining 8 are contracted community-based positions (e.g., Larimer Center for Mental Health, Mathews House). Some drug/alcohol abuse prevention services were eliminated, and other programs have been reduced. All changes and reductions were guided by program effectiveness/evidence-based research conducted annually by CSU’s Research & Development (R&D) Center. All changes being made support community-based efforts to make changes for families; projected budget cuts are necessitating that Human Services do business in an outcome-based way.

 

 

Commissioner Rennels reported that Governor Ritter has requested the Child Welfare Action’s Structure Subcommittee finalize its recommendations by September 24, 2009. The Committee has continued to discuss how to resolve communication issues when county departments receive letters of sanction from the State without notification being sent to the county commissioners. The draft action plan, which recommends the State send an “FYI” project improvement plan letter to county commissioners when it issues a letter of sanction to a department, is ready to go through the public comment process.

 

 

Proposed budget cuts are giving the State the opportunity to review statutes and authority while reinforcing the need for the State to balance its service requirements for counties with funding needs for those specific services.

 

 

In response to Ms. Riley’s question regarding corrective actions, Commissioner Rennels indicated that corrective actions most likely would be based on outcomes.

 

 

Benefits Information Center (Call Center) Response Time and Timely Case Processing – Marsha Ellis

 

Marsha Ellis, Division Manager, Benefits Planning Division, reported that her division continues to experience a significant increase in caseload in all programs. In addition, the State is requiring all counties to improve processing accuracy which, in turn, increases workload.

 

1.    Benefits Information Center (Call Center) (chart attached):

       Ÿ      The BIC currently is staffed by 8 eligibility technicians, 1 senior income maintenance technician, and 1 manager; the newest technician finished training and joined the staff in July.

       Ÿ      Data indicates call volume is higher during the first 10 days of the month when benefits are typically issued on EBT cards. Calls in the second half of month typically are from clients with new addresses, new dependents, etc.; most of these issues are solved by the end of the month.

       Ÿ      Data indicates wait times are longer during the first 10 days of the month; longest hold time in June 2009 was 57 minutes; average hold time is 7–10 minutes. Incoming call/hold messages have decreased call volume; many clients receive answers to their questions from the automated message (e.g., hours of operation, address of building, etc.).

       Ÿ      Trained technicians answer all calls and work with clients to solve problems while on the phone; approximately 85% of all calls are first-call resolutions.

 

 

continued on next page


 

 

Benefits Information Center (Call Center) Response Time and Timely Case Processing – Marsha Ellis (Continued)

 

       Ÿ      Email is a popular method clients use to contact the BIC; technicians respond to all email messages on a rotating basis.

       Ÿ      BIC is funded from county administration funds; any cuts to county administration funding will affect the BIC, as well as all other Human Services benefits programs. To date, Larimer and Arapahoe counties are the only counties in Colorado using the call center concept.

 

 

2.   Caseloads – Food Stamps (chart attached):

       Ÿ      Food stamps has the largest caseload in terms of number of people coming in.

       Ÿ      The State allows 30 days to process regular food stamps applications and 7 days to process expedited food stamps applications.

       Ÿ      The Division is currently averaging 3%–4% out of compliance; larger counties are averaging 17%–39% out of compliance; State requirement is 5% out of compliance.

       Ÿ      The State is working on changes to the CBMS system which currently does not allow cases to be closed until they’ve been in the system for 30 days; this impacts case closing, especially if the 30-day period expires on a weekend. During the previous week (July 26 – August 1, 2009), 43% of cases should have been closed on Saturday or Sunday.

       Ÿ      The Division experienced a 31.14% increase in cases from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009 and a 58.57% increase in applications from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009.

       Ÿ      Two temporary employees have been hired from $60,000 received in food stamps stimulus funding to process cases.

 

 

3.   Caseloads – TANF (chart attached):

       Ÿ      The Division has experienced a 104.74% increase in TANF applications from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009 and a 34.91% increase in cases from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009.

       Ÿ      The State allows 45 days to process cases; the Division currently averages a 5% out of compliance rate; more staffing is needed to keep up with the caseload.

       Ÿ      State diversion allows the county to process a 3-month payment for clients meeting diversion eligibility requirements; clients are required to work with an employment coach at the Workforce Center; giving some clients 3 months of assistance helps stabilize them.

       Ÿ      Clients may receive a maximum of 3 diversions in a lifetime; diversions may not be issued back to back.

 

 

4.   Caseloads – Medicaid (chart attached):

       Ÿ      The Division has experienced a 13.06% increase in Medicaid cases from October 2008 – June 2009.

       Ÿ      Currently, approximately 45 Medicaid cases are being sent each week to the State for processing; the State received a foundation grant to have a central site in Colorado Springs process all family Medicaid-only cases.

       Ÿ      Nursing home cases have become more complex due to increase in variables with estates, trusts, annuities, etc.

 

 

continued on next page


 

 

Benefits Information Center (Call Center) Response Time and Timely Case Processing – Marsha Ellis (Continued)

 

5.   Caseloads – Child Care (chart attached):

       Ÿ      The Division has experienced an 11.89% increase in the number of kids served from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009 and a 7.87% increase in cases from 2nd quarter 2008 – 2nd quarter 2009.

       Ÿ      The State received stimulus funding in April and increased the length of time from 30 days to 180 days that families are eligible for job search.

       Ÿ      New federal tracking requirements have increased staff workload.

       Ÿ      The State is exploring the feasibility of creating regional centers for child care resources and referrals; centers would be funded by the State to Early Childhood Councils; centers would provide consistent and centralized information for consumers.

 

 

FY 2010 Budget – Ginny Riley

 

Ginny Riley, Director, Larimer County Department of Human Services, reported that the Department’s preliminary budget would be submitted by the September 1, 2009, deadline; however, anticipated cuts in State funding may necessitate budget revisions.

 

Governor Ritter is planning to release his list of proposed budget cuts for the current fiscal year (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010) to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) on August 24, 2009. Although this list is being kept confidential until August 24, it is anticipated that cuts to the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and to Health Care Policy and Finance (HCPF) will be “deep, difficult, and bloody,” with cuts for both organizations combined totaling as much as $210 million.

 

Because the full extent of these expected cuts on the Department’s budget may not be known until after the county’s September 1 preliminary budget deadline, Ms. Riley anticipates the Department may need to make budget changes up until October 15, 2009, or later; October 15 is the date by which the County Manager must present the balanced budget to the Board of County Commissioners.

 

 

Ms. Riley reported she was appointed the new chair of the Medical Services Board, the rulemaking board for HCPF. The Medical Services Board is anticipating an emergency meeting on August 31, 2009, to make significant rule changes due to the State’s budget crisis.

 

Commissioner Rennels asked that Ms. Riley meet with the Board of County Commissioners in September 2009 to discuss budget issues.

 

 

FY 2009 Complaints Summary & Citizen Review Panel Report – Eileen Brittingham

 

Eileen Brittingham, Executive Assistant, Larimer County Department of Human Services, presented an overview of the Department’s complaint process and reviewed the numbers and types of complaints received in the Director’s Office from January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008.

 

During 2008, 113 complaints were received, the majority of which had to do with the Department’s two largest divisions: Benefits Planning (Food, Medical and Financial Assistance) and Children, Youth and Family.

 

 

continued on next page


 

 

FY 2009 Complaints Summary & Citizen Review Panel Report – Eileen Brittingham (Continued)

 

Of these 113 complaints:

Ÿ     56% were about service delivery issues (clients waiting on hold too long, applications not being processed in a timely manner, etc.);

Ÿ     19% were about communication issues (clients didn’t understand the process, didn’t receive a return phone call, etc.);

Ÿ     13% were about recurring issues (clients repeatedly complaining about the same issue);

Ÿ     11% were about professional judgment issues (clients disagreeing with caseworker assessments or conclusions, etc.); and

Ÿ     1% were about other issues.

 

 

In response to Commissioner Johnson’s inquiry, Ms. Brittingham stated that the overwhelming majority of complainants were satisfied with the resolution; less than 1% remained dissatisfied with their resolution.

 

 

The Department received one request in 2008 for an issue to be taken to the Citizen Review Panel, but the client cancelled prior to the meeting. The Citizen Review Panel is intended to address only employee misconduct, and any resulting actions have to be within the Director’s authority.

 

 

Adjournment

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:35 am by Commissioner Rennels.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Alice Williamson

Executive Assistant

Human Services