Commissioners’ Conference Room

Second Floor – County Administration Building

10:00 am - Noon

 

In Attendance: Commissioner Donnelly, Commissioner Johnson, Commissioner Gaiter, Neil Gluckman, Ginny Riley, Laura Walker, Ed Rutherford, Marsha Ellis, Nancy Salazar, Peggy Koskie, and Eileen Brittingham

 

Commissioner Johnson called the meeting to order.

 

Everyone in attendance introduced themselves to the listening audience. Ginny asked the Commissioners if there were any additional items for the agenda.  No items were added.

 

CHILD SUPPORT PRESENTATION

Nancy Salazar, Deputy Division Manager, Business Operations gave a detailed overview of the Child Support program. Child Support provides case management to those who apply, establish paternity (if required) and establish, modify and enforce orders. A referral to child support is mandatory for client receiving public assistance (such as TANF and Child Care Assistance).  

 

Nancy explained the Administrative Process Action (APA) process to the Commissioners. The APA process allows the child support staff to establish child support orders without a court hearing.  Child Support staff are trained to look at both families and make decisions based of the Colorado Child Support guidelines. If one of the parties do not agree a court hearing can be scheduled.  Child Support staff will file court order directly with the courts. The courts will review, sign and make any changes they feel is necessary.

Commissioner Johnson asked if staff are authorized to make changes to court orders. Nancy replied that staff can make change if there is at least a 10% change in one of the parties household situation.  This can include changes to their income, expenses, etc.  Child Support staff cannot deviate from the child support guidelines.

Commissioner Johnson asked if parents can negotiate items such as: child care, medical expenses, education expenses, etc.  Yes, parents can work with the technician to make the payment affordable for the non-custodial parent while still supporting the needs of the children in the custodial parent care. Many times parents negotiate these items (i.e. the non-custodial parent may offer to take the children after school in order to reduce child care expenses). 

Some of the remedies that staff may use to encourage payment: suspension of driver license and professional license, income assignment, garnish wages, deny passport, credit agency reporting, and freezing bank accounts.  Staff will work with individual cases to deal with hardship issues.  Technicians will help with modification of orders if needed.  Overall, Colorado has been very successful with remedies allowed to us.

Commissioner Gaiter asked if it the best option to remove an individuals lively hood.  Ginny responded that generally we do not revoke a license for one missed payments.  These are generally when an individual has missed more then three months of payments and refuse to work with the technician. 

Nancy stated that technicians will work with each individual to determine what appropriate actions the department can take to assist the client.  In most cases we will continue to work with the client if he or she continues to pay some portion and continues to contact the technician with details.

Nancy stated that in many hardship cases the client does not realize that he or she can file for a modification. Technicians will try to educate the client on their options. In the instances where we are using remedies the client knows what they need to do and chooses not to do anything. 

Commissioner Gaiter asked if the department has imposed remedies in the 37% of cases that are not paying.  Nancy stated, yes the department will use one or more of these remedies in the cases where we are not receiving the required child support payments.  The last remedy that a technician can use is filing an order of contempt with the court.  In these very rare instances the judge has authority to sentence the offender to jail.  Commissioner Gaiter asked what steps the department takes prior to removing a person’s income.  A discussion on the pros and cons of this and other types of enforcement ensued. 

Commissioner Gaiter stated that he hears from citizens that the reason they don’t pay their child support is that the custodial parent does not allow them visitation.  Nancy stated that technicians do not have the authority to intervene on visitation issues.  These issues need to be addressed with the courts.  A discussion on this issue followed.

Ginny explained that this is a federal program that is measured by the amount of money collected. 

Nancy announced that Larimer County participating in a federal grant opportunity that allows us to work with those individuals who are incarcerated, coming out of prison and the disabled to forgive some or all of their child support arrears. 

Ginny and Commissioner Gaiter discussed the downfall of child support for the non-custodial parent and hardship on society. Ginny stated that clients can contact Nancy, their technician or a supervisor for assistance. 

Commissioner Johnson expressed his concern with only 63% of current child support orders are being paid.  Nancy stated that this is the highest percent collected by Larimer County in the past few years.  Nancy provided the Commissioners with the collection percentages of the big 10 counties in Colorado.  

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

Peggy Koskie, Manager of the LEAP program, distributed a handout and a brochure outlining the application process, income guidelines, and contact information.

 

The LEAP program provides cash assistance for heat to low income families.  The program runs from November 1 through April 30.  Currently, the federal block grant has not been approved by Congress.  Therefore, LEAP is running on holdover from last year and is waiting for approval of the budget by Congress. 

Peggy provided the Commissioners with details on how the LEAP program works, how funds are distributed to clients.    

Commissioner Donnelly asked how does the department determine how much to pay a client when the heat is included in the rent.  Peggy explained that the state establishes a flat rate.  When heat is included in rent we use a flat rate.  The state also works with vendors (i.e. Xcel Energy, Source Gas, Poudre REA, Propane retailers, etc) who provide cost estimates.   

Commissioner Gaiter asked why there was a drop in applications for 2006, 2007 and 2008 .  Peggy explained that the state had an issue with the annual mass mailing.     

Peggy explained that the program provides assistance to anyone who is eligible. The program looks at the cost to heat the house the prior year, income, family size, and heating source to determine eligibility.

Commissioner Gaiter asked why do we use the 185% of federal poverty level.  Peggy states that Colorado has chosen to serve the highest level of eligibility under the federal guidelines.

Partnership with Community Agencies for Medicaid Outreach and Enrollment

Marsha Ellis announced that the Department of Human Services has partnered with the Health District on the Maximum Outreach and Retention grant (MORE). The purpose of this grant is to build partnerships, improve application retention and re-enrollment through outreach and application assistance. The Health District has hired an individual who is already working in the community providing outreach and education for the Child Health Plan Plus(CHP+) and Medicaid programs. 

The Department of Human Services is partnering with Salud Medical Center on the Colorado Health Foundation grant application.  If we receive this grant opportunity it would allow us to have a technician at the Salud clinic to provide application assistance for CHP+ and Medicaid. The goal of these programs is to get all children who are eligible enrolled in a medical insurance program.

Medicaid Enrollment through Maximums

Ginny explained that she is in support of allowing Maximus to take application for Medicaid and CHP+ and process those applications.  Ginny explained that some counties are resistant to this change but she feels that giving clients several options to enroll in this program is beneficial for the department as well as the clients.

House Bill 12-93 the state is looking at different populations that the ways they can access they are going to work with client eligibility levels:

  • Increase in the Federal Poverty Level for the Parents Plus program
  • Include a disabled person buy in  2011
  • Adults without dependant children in 2012
  • Adult Medicaid to be phased in 2012
  • Medicaid – Long Term Care 2012
  • Medicaid saving programs in 2012

 

If a client applies for a high level program (i.e. Food Assistance) Maximus will send these applications back to the client’s county of residence. Medicaid only cases will stay with Maximus and not return to the county unless the client applies for a high level program.  

Commissioner Johnson asked will counties will have access to the Maximus data.  Marsha replied that yes counties will have access the data. In addition Maximus will scan any documentation received by the client which counties will also have access to. 

Marsha also stated that Maximus has plans to expand its call center.  The expansion will allow any client in any county to call in and receive updated information on their case status.

Client can now also access the PEAK system.  This is an on-line application that allows client to input their information to determine whether or not they are eligible for some or all assistance programs in Colorado.  They have postponed the second phase of PEAK until CBMS has stabilized.  State will not add anymore program until

What is happening to the wait times between CBMS screens.  Marsha replied that yes the wait times are going down and the he department is happy with the progress but there is still more work that needs to be done to improve the functionality of the CMBS program.   

Complaint Report

Eileen Brittingham, Executive Assistant, presented an overview the numbers and types of complaints received in the Director’s Office from July1, 2010, through September 31, 2010.

 

During the 3rd Quarter of 2010, 15 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.

Eileen distributed a handout which included complaint brochures, children protection grievance advisement, citizen review panel request form and the statutory information on the citizen review panel.

Ginny reminded the Citizen Review Panel is open to clients who are issues with employee misconduct.  Client can only use the citizen review panel after Ginny has responded to their complaint and the remedy sought is within the scope of the director’s authority.

The Commissioners asked what happens during the Citizen Review Panel hearing.  Ginny explained that the client and the department has the opportunity to present information to the panel, present any relevant documentation.  The panel has the opportunity to ask questions to the client as well as department employees.  The panel will issue a written report and recommendations to the director.  Any personnel actions are confidential and cannot be released to the panel or the client.  A copy of the report is provided to the client, employee and the director.  The director can implement any of the suggestions or changes … The client can appeal to the Board of County Commissioners. The Board reviews the Citizen Review Panels findings and can overturn their decision or hold their decision up.  The Citizen Review panel is a confidential hearing and is not open to the public.

 

Legislative Update

During the October CCI Meeting Ginny Riley and Commissioner Johnson volunteers to participate in a steering committee to developing  a relationship with the new State Human Services administration and strategies to improve Human Services delivery statewide.

Commissioner Johnson stated that the state held a hearing at the legislature to discuss improving outcomes for Human Services. Senator Lundberg and Senator Kefalas met with Commissioner Johnson and Ginny Riley after the state hearing to discuss and improve outcomes, how counties can be more proactive, ideas on how we can work to improve outcomes and how we can be measured to show those outcomes. 

Ginny asked the Commissioners if they had any other question.  No further questions. 

The meeting was adjourned.