Department Human Services
COMMITTEE ON JOINT HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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01:33 PM -- Briefing by the Department Human Services
Karen Beye, Executive Director, Department of Human Services, introduced herself to the committee. Ms. Beye pointed out some organizational changes in the department. Ms. Beye provided a department overview and resource guide to the committee (Attachment A).
(Attachment A can be viewed at Archives)
Ms. Beye spoke about the Child Welfare Action Committee recommendations. She stated that several of the recommendations from the Child Welfare Action Committee have been implemented including training for employees. She mentioned that the action review committee is looking into how to transition children that are too old for foster care, and how to foster a lifetime connection between foster parent and child. She spoke to Senate Bill 08-177, the Colorado Works Omnibus bill, which addresses how counties may use their Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reserves. She also stated that Senate Bill 08-177 allowed the department to increase the basic cash assistance amount to recipients by 30 percent, or about $462/month. She noted that this is the first increase to the basic cash assistance in several decades. She stated that counties where TANF reserve funds are not being used, are going to a Strategic Use Fund, which can be used by the counties for innovative ideas.
Ms. Beye spoke to the American Recovery Plan, the federal stimulus proposal. She stated that the stimulus package may increase funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She stated the Colorado has seen a 20 percent increase in utilization of food stamps and that approximately 126,000 individuals are on food stamps as of December 2008. She stated that TANF contingency plan, which allows the state to apply for more federal funding if the state meets specific requirements. These requirements are triggered by an increase in requests for food stamps and unemployment benefits. She stated that Colorado would meet these triggers. Ms. Beye stated that part of the stimulus package may include a Child Care Block Grant. She stated that the funds cannot be used to supplant current funds, but that the package would include funds for an increase of Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Senator Mitchell asked Executive Director Beye if there was any discussion in the Child Welfare Action Committee with regard to best practices or use of specifics models. Ms. Beye responded that the action committee has reviewed other models and best practices.
Various deputy directors from the department presented to the committee.
02:06 PM -- Vicki Manley, Office Director, State and Veterans Nursing Home, stated that the office has implement 'culture' into the various nursing homes. She stated that by implementing culture into these homes helps the residents deal with boredom and loneliness. She mentioned that a big concern for the division is the Trinidad State Nursing Home which has lost approximately $1 million over the past two years. She stated that revenues from the four state-operated nursing homes are pooled into what is known as the Enterprise Fund 505. She stated that the division is asking for the Trinidad State Nursing Home be removed from the Enterprise Fund 505 as to protect the other nursing homes and the Enterprise Fund 505. She stated the division has two possible solutions for the Trinidad State Nursing Home which are listed in the departmental overview and resource guide (Attachment A).
02:09 PM -- Susan Hunt, Interim Director, Office of Adult, Disability, and Rehabilitation Services, stated that the definition of a developmental disability was reviewed by the department this summer. She stated it was a collaborative effort by the department and various stakeholders. She stated that one of the recommendations was to not change the definition that is currently in statute, but to address the differing opinions through the department rules. Ms. Beye stated that the department discussed the request for budget cuts. She stated that the department either can do across the board cuts and do many things less well or look at specific programs to cut. She stated that there were several programs that will be rolled back or scaled down within the Division of Developmental Disabilities. A handout was provided to the committee detailing the proposed cuts by department (Attachment B).
02:29 PM -- Pauline Burton, Director, Office of Self-Sufficiency, introduced herself to the committee. She spoke to Senate Bill 08-177 and its successes. She stated that last year's bill that allowed the department to intercept gambling winnings to pay back child support has been successful for the Child Support Enforcement division.
02:37 PM -- George Kennedy, Director, Division of Child Welfare, introduced himself to the committee. Ms. Beye spoke to the budget reduction to the Division of Children, Family, and Youth. She stated that the mental health counseling of siblings that was passed last year will not be funded this year.
Jocelyn Gay, Deputy Executive Director, Behavioral Health and Housing, stated that two acute care units within the Institute of Ft. Logan and the Institute of Pueblo will be closed due to budget cuts. She provided information on the closure of the psychiatric child care unit closure as well. She stated that there are other individuals in the community that can provide these services and supports more effectively than the department. She clarified that the Pueblo Psychiatric Hospital is not what is being closed.
Director Beye provided a wrap-up to the committee.