Board of Social Services Minutes
August 18, 2014

Commissioners' Conference Room
Second Floor – County Administration Building
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

In Attendance: Commissioner Lew Gaiter, Commissioner Steve Johnson, Commissioner Tom Donnelly, Linda Hoffmann, Lorenda Volker, Deni LaRue, Ginny Riley, Laura Walker, Marsha Ellis, Jim Drendel, Ed Rutherford, Kelly Morrison, Laura Sartor, Milissa Carlson, Andrew Feagler, Eileen Brittingham

A recording of this worksession is available at: http://larimer.org/bcc/list_worksessions.cfm

Introductions and Announcements
Commissioner Donnelly welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order.

Director Ginny Riley asked if there were any additions to the agenda and stated that the agenda did not include the client activity report. Ginny stated that Laura Walker will give this report. The Commissioners had no additional agenda items.

Colorado Department of Human Services Community Performance Public Web Site
Children, Youth and Family Division Manager, Jim Drendel, distributed a handout which included samples of the types of reports that you can access on the Colorado State public web site. Jim stated that there are approximately 80 different measurements that the public can access. These reports show both statewide statistics as well as county level statistics.

Link to the State web site: http://www.cdhsdatamatters.org/

Jim reviewed several reports including:

  1. Referrals or “Reports” Concerning abuse or Neglect
  2. Absence of Repeat Maltreatment (within six months of a substantiated report of abuse or neglect)
  3. Absence of Abuse or Neglect After Services (Children who did not have a substantiated maltreatment report within six month following child welfare involvement)
  4. Children in Out-of-Home Care/New Removals (children in out-of-home care and children re-entering out-of-home care, which are designated "new removals")
  5. Length of Stay (children in out-of-home placements on the last day of each report period, by the length of time they had been in placement as of that day).

Jim explained that some of the reports contain inaccurate information. He has requested information from State staff about where they obtain the detailed data for these reports, but the State staff has not been able to provide that information to him. Jim further explained that the reporting system currently incorrectly reflects seven cases out of compliance for Larimer County, but the State is not able to correct the system error in the Trails system. These errors skew the data on the reports.

Jim suggested that when you review the data that you should review the data specifically for Larimer County and if you have any questions to please contact him.

Initial Results from the Business Process Re-engineering of Benefits Eligibility Determination
Ginny reminded the Commissioners that during the May Board of Social Services Meeting she announced that the Benefits Planning Division has been working on a performance improvement plan to help staff process benefits more efficiently and timely. The Benefits Planning Division has had great success in this process. A handout was provided showing the analysis, recommendation, and outcomes.

Laura Walker began by reviewing background information. Larimer County has been working with the State under the Work Strategies grant, which has a goal of streamlining access to benefits. The State provided funding for the big 10 counties to receive technical assistance from the Change and Innovation Agency (CIA). The Change and Innovation Agency conducted an assessment in Larimer County, provided technical assistance and training, and helped us make several process improvements.

Benefits Planning Deputy Division Manager, Laura Sartor, reviewed the State reported outcomes of the process improvement changes:

  • Clients reported a great improvement in customer service,
  • Employees reported increased job satisfaction and reduced stress,
  • Managers noted a decrease in employee absenteeism,
  • And there was a dramatic reduction in the County’s backlog.

Income Maintenance Managers, Milissa Carlson and Andrew Feagler reviewed several graphs that showed the processing statistics for new applications for Food Assistance, Colorado Works, and Adult Financial programs. Laura Walker explained that we have been meeting the State’s requirements even though our staffing levels were about 80 – 90% of what they should be. No staff had been hired for the last 4 months because we did not want to bring new staff on in the midst of changing our process.

Benefits Planning Division Manager, Marsha Ellis, explained that Larimer County is meeting the state goal of timely processing of 95% of benefits applications reported. Marsha & Laura explained that the Adult Financial programs category includes a small number of applications, so our numbers can look skewed on the report if one or two applications are not timely.

Laura Walker said she feels strongly that employee absenteeism has dramatically reduced over the last year because staff is not as stressed at work. Laura explained that she will be doing a full analysis of this data and will share later with managers. Laura also stated that the Center for Policy Research did a survey of eligibility staff across the State at the beginning of the grant, and they plan to redo this survey. Laura is hoping that this will show a dramatic increase in job satisfaction for Larimer County employees.

Marsha stated that a comparison of the 10 large counties for processing of Food Assistance applications shows that Larimer County was the top county for the month of June for processing applications, recertifications, and expedited applications. We like to share this with staff as it shows all of their hard work is paying off. Commissioner Johnson suggested providing cake to staff.

Taking Over Medicaid Cases from Maximus
Commissioner Johnson asked if the State has decided what is going to happen with the Maximus contract. Ginny responded that during the June Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI) meeting, counties voted to take on the Maximus caseload beginning July 1, 2015. Commissioner Johnson asked if the vote makes a recommendation to the State or does this make this official. Ginny explained that the decision is official and that counties will be taking on this work as of July 1, but we will not take on the payments for the child health plan or any calls related to those payments. Each county will take on their own caseloads.

Ginny explained that between January 2013 and July 2014 Larimer County experienced a 500% in new Medicaid applications. The State has not been able to fund this increase in caseload.

House Bill 14-1317 Child Care Assistance Program
Ginny explained that she is bringing this agenda item in to keep the Commissioner’s informed about what is going on. Larimer County has had issues in funding the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) for many years due to underfunding from the State. However, in the past legislative session major changes were made to the program. Rules are currently being developed by a task force to implement the changes. One important change is that all counties are required to serve clients at 165% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Currently, Larimer County is serving clients who are at a 130% FPL and have a waiting list with 300 children who are in need of child care assistance. There are several other counties that have waiting lists, but none of those counties have more than 10 children on their list.

Commissioner Gaiter asked why we have such a high number of children on this list. Ginny responded that it is because Larimer County does not get the funding to serve all of the children. The bill fiscal note was about 35 million to bring the entire state into compliance, but the bill was funded at 9 million dollars. This year, the State will under-spend 5 million dollars. We are requesting to be funded at least to the 165%, which would require us to again have a waiting list. The State committee is looking to pass its rules by November so the 9 million dollars can be released to the counties. The group is recommending that any county that has a waiting list be funded to allow any children on a wait list to come off of the waiting list.

Commissioner Johnson recommended that Ginny should be in contact with Senator Kefalas. Ginny agreed that she would meet with him.

Budget and Fund Balance
Ginny explained that this topic concerns the Human Services fund balance, not Larimer County’s fund balance. Human Services has maintained a significant fund balance (Fund 262) for many years. This fund is required by State statute. DHS has not received sufficient county funds for a number of years to match and draw down all of our allocated state and federal funds. DHS has had to cover the shortfall in county funds with money from the department’s fund balance. Ginny stated that in her upcoming budget letter, the department projects that we will be at the required minimum by 2016 if we continue to draw down from the fund balance. This may require the department to make some cuts to programs. Ginny states that we do have some one time projects that will help reduce our costs. Commissioner Johnson stated that this is one of reasons that we need to continue the Jail sales tax.

Client Activity Report
Deputy Director, Laura Walker, presented an overview of the department’s client activity. Laura reviewed: monthly average caseloads, program activity, complaint totals, and results from the client follow-up survey regarding complaints from April 1, 2014 through June 31, 2014.

During the 2st Quarter of 2014:

  • The Food, Medical and Financial Assistance Program caseloads continue to increase. We currently have 52,479 cases.
  • Child Support collected over $4 million.
  • Children, Youth and Family received 1,567 referrals, and 97% of children with a case plan to remain home did.
  • We received a total of 8 complaints during the 2nd quarter.

Laura reviewed the comments that clients have submitted and explained that what the department is looking for in these responses are any trends or recurring complaints that need to be addressed with the process, with a supervisor, or within a division.

Ginny also added that the department receives reports from the Child Protection Ombudsman office and we are also looking in those reports for trends or where the Ombudsman does not fully support our actions.

Ginny asked the Commissioners if there were any further items they would like addressed. Commissioner Johnson stated that Mesa County has a committee called the Health Leadership Consortium where Human Services and the Health Department interact. Marsha Ellis has been attending a committee with the Health Department and the community. Commissioner Johnson suggested that Ginny speak with the Director in Mesa County to see if this would be beneficial for us.

Commissioner Johnson also suggested that the Ginny schedule a time for the department to meet with Senator Steadman and Representative May. Ginny agreed and will find a time to meet with them.

Meeting adjourned.