Commissioners’ Conference Room
Second Floor – County Administration Building
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
In Attendance: Commissioner Donnelly, Commissioner Gaiter, Commissioner Johnson, Linda Hoffman, Neil Gluckman, Ginny Riley, Laura Walker, Jim Drendel, Ed Rutherford, Marsha Ellis, Denise Suniga, Keith Bainer, Sue Statz, Shannon Reiff, Linda Connors, John Gillies, Colleen Gibley-Reed, Eileen Brittingham
A recording of this worksession is available at: http://larimer.org/bcc/list_worksessions.cfm
Introductions & Announcements
Commissioner Gaiter welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order.
Everyone in attendance introduced themselves and stated their position for the listening audience.
Ginny Riley shared that Denise Suniga is leaving at the end of this month. Denise will be the assistant director of the Fort Collins/Matthews House Community Life center.
Director Ginny Riley asked the Commissioners if they had any other agenda items. The Commissioners did not have any additional items.
Department Analysis of Issue Raised by Media Coverage
An analysis was requested by Commissioners at our last quarterly meeting – Larimer County’s perspective on the Denver Post article series on Child Welfare in the State of Colorado. Jim showed a video from a panel discussion of actual families who have been involved in Larimer County Child Welfare programs and had successful, positive experiences for their children and their families.
Jim reported on total statewide referrals for Child Protection for the last five years as well as Larimer’s portion of those calls. In 2012, Child Protection served approximately 3,000 children in Larimer County. In the last four years, Larimer has had only one child fatality with prior Child Protection involvement with the family (cited from State Human Services data). Jim discussed the type of placements Larimer County has when children do have to be removed from the home – focusing on kin (family) placements versus licensed foster care.
Jim reviewed statistics for Colorado for congregate care placements (residential treatment, group homes, etc.). Currently Larimer County has approximately 175 children in out-of-home placements, with four in congregate care – the lowest number for ten large counties in Colorado. Jim reviewed the practice changes that he believes have led to these improved outcomes for children and families.
Jim shared that Larimer County Child Protection has 22 various levels of audits and reviews by State or Federal agencies. He also reviewed our internal practices that address safety concerns, provide good planning with families via family meetings, and ensure multiple levels of group consultation on all open cases. He went over several outcome statistics for Larimer County Child Protection. Jim discussed numerous integrated groups and projects where Child Protection is engaged in partnership with other community agencies and providers where Child Protection families intersect with multiple systems.
A discussion ensued after the presentation. John Gillies highlighted the “safety network” around children and the continued analysis of the protective capacity of that network, not just the parents. Angela Mead discussed the enhanced screening process at the initial phone call and the group consultation for referrals has been a key to improving outcomes. Jim shared that the State of Delaware Child Protection program is here right now with Casey Family Programs to copy our differential response approach.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the proposed 1-800 statewide child protection phone number – if the number will just forward to our Hub or if someone is going to answer the phone at the state level. Jim indicated that hasn’t been decided yet and Larimer only supports a forwarding model to minimize the number of hand-offs of a referral call. Commissioner Johnson also asked about the State’s claim that they can’t track the number of workers. Jim indicated that because counties (including Larimer) may have caseworkers that do work other than traditional casework, it is more difficult to assess workload/caseload by worker. An example for Larimer is the team of caseworkers who facilitate family meetings for the rest of the agency.
Ginny thanked the Board for the opportunity to respond to this media coverage as an exercise to examine more formally our practice.
Director Ginny Riley provided an update on the current legislation that will affect Human Services.
The Governor is committed to Medicaid expansion but will need legislative support to implement. There should also be legislation regarding the Child Welfare Federal IV-E waiver that has been granted. The proposed Child Welfare program changes will require legislation to enact. There is a placeholder bill to change the format of the Child Fatality Review committee that Ginny and Commissioner Gaiter currently sit on. There is also pending legislation to make certain individuals mandated reporters for adults over 70 as well as a bill to increase funding to the older Americans – Ruth Long will be coming to Admin matter to ask for the Commissioner’s support of this bill.
Commissioner Johnson asked about a potential bill sponsored by Adams County around Child Protection Teams. Ginny said there is discussion about reviewing all child protection cases versus targeting reviews with those community review groups – Larimer County currently targets our reviews for the most meaningful input.
Fraud and Recovery
Business Operations Manager Keith Bainer report that the Fraud and Recovery’s units purpose is is to investigate reports of fraud or discrepancies for our public funding, validating those claims, and then make efforts to recover those monies. The types of payments that Fraud and Recovery might deal with include system overpayments and/or intentional misreporting of income or household size in programs including Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), Child Care Assistance (CCAP), Food Assistance, Child Welfare services requiring a family payment, and bounced checks for Child Support collections. Keith outlined the various avenues where referrals to his program might originate, including online anonymous reports via www.larimer.org and the State’s Human Services website, and internal staff referrals when overpayments are identified in systems.
Keith described the agreement between Human Services and the District Attorney’s office – cases with less than $1,000.00 in overpayment will not be prosecuted criminally. Intentional program violations may be brought to an Administrative Law Judge for a determination. After that determination, if the client is found liable, recovery processes begin to recoup monies. If we don’t find an intentional violation but it was a client error, they will still pursue recovery, just as we would with agency errors that resulted in overpayment. Collections come in the form of reducing ongoing benefits to pay the amount back, promissory notes with clients who are no longer on benefits, treasury offsets when promissory notes are not honored, and garnishments if employment is known. The challenges of CBMS in the early days of that system did cause a lot of overpayments as well as claims that actually were not valid. The system has improved since then and we have a full time employee assigned to validate all claims from CBMS.
Commissioner Johnson asked if any of the recovered monies impact county-only funding. Keith clarified that for Food Assistance recoveries, the county does get to keep a small portion of what we recover. The other funding streams would have recovered monies replacing to Federal sources. Ginny reported that Medicaid coverage that wasn’t appropriate is more difficult to recover since it is not a cash issuance to the client. Commissioner Donnelly asked about adults who are in this country illegally getting benefits. Keith stated that if an adult has a child born in this country the child may still be eligible for benefits and the parent would be issued the EBT card for the monies.
Trends for Funding Allocations
At the request of the County Commissioner’s Ginny provide an overview of department funding, how county monies play in, and some history on Human Services funding. Ginny did not include several programs that have no county funding share as well as internal county billings such as the county-wide cost allocation and payments for technology support i.e. the HHS Business Analyst group billing.
Commissioner Gaiter asked if these partially funded programs that get state and federal funds show up on the overall County budget. Ginny clarified that benefits paid out to clients would not show up on budgets such as Food Assistance, LEAP, etc. Some administration cost would still come through on the County’s budget. Ginny reviewed handouts that outline overall expenses and the federal, state, and county shares making up various program budgets. The programs included TANF, CCAP, Child Welfare, County Administration, Child Support, and the Office on Aging. County Administration covers eligibility and case maintenance for various eligibility programs such as Food Assistance.
Ginny asked the Commissioner’s if they had any questions. The Commissioner’s did not have any questions .
Client Activity Report
Business Operations Coordinator Eileen Brittingham presented an overview of the department’s client activity. Eileen reviewed: monthly average caseloads, program activity, complaint totals, and client follow-up survey regarding complaints from October 1, 2012 through December 30, 2012.
During the 4th Quarter:
· The Food Medical & Financial Assistance program averaged 28,428 cases
· The Benefits Information Center took 9,831 calls and 92% were resolved on the 1st contact
· Child Support averaged collected $3,862,659
· Children, Youth and Family (Child Protection) received 2,021 referrals, with 96% of children involved with our services remaining in their homes when that was the case plan
· The Director’s office received 25 formal complaints during the 4th Quarter
The next meeting has been scheduled for May 13, 2013 from 10am to 12pm, Commissioners Conference Room.