SJR 96: Comprehensive Services Act and
the At-Risk Youth and Families Program
June 19, 2007
The joint subcommittee
was created in 2006 to review the administration of the Comprehensive
Services Act (CSA) by state and local agencies and make recommendations
for improvement of program services, as well as strategies for cost containment.
The first meeting of the 2007 interim was held on June 19 in Richmond.
of Residential Services
Ms. Nathalie Molliet-Ribet of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
(JLARC) gave a brief review of the agency’s study, Evaluation of
Residential Services Delivered Through the Comprehensive Services Act.
The study found that residential rates were generally appropriate, though
some for-profit group homes charge rates that may not reflect intensity
of services. The study also determined that access to a full array of
services was key to controlling spending and improving care. However,
JLARC found, most local programs had been forced to place children in
residential facilities due to lack of community-based alternatives. The
most critical service gaps identified included crisis services, family
support, assessment, and foster families. To address these gaps, JLARC
offered a number of recommendations.
Response to JLARC’s Evaluation
Raymond R. Ratke, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Mental Health, Mental
Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services provided an overview of the
interagency response to recommendations delivered in JLARC's Evaluation
of Children’s Residential Services Delivered Through the comprehensive
Services Act and answered questions posed by the joint subcommittee.
Ms. Kim McGaughey of the Office of Comprehensive Services (OCS) briefed
the joint subcommittee on developments affecting the CSA Program, including
efforts to increase access to community services, utilization of Innovative
Service Grants, and development of a relationship with the Annie E. Casey
Foundation strategic consulting group for the purpose of developing best
practices to reduce out of home care and to increase investment in expanded
community services. Ms. McGaughey also discussed OCS efforts to strengthen
CSA community teams, focusing on developing guidelines, tools, best practices,
and skill building. Efforts to improve decision-making through development
of various assessment tools, replacement of the service fee directory,
refinement of the CSA data set and tracking of CSA performance measures
were also discussed. Ms. McGaughey concluded by providing the priorities
that OCS will focus on in the coming months.
Follow Up Report
Ms. Molliet-Ribet introduced the topic of custody relinquishment, describing
JLARC'S Follow Up Report: Custody Relinquishment and the Comprehensive
Services Act. The report, requested by the joint subcommittee in December,
was intended to estimate the fiscal impact of the December 6, 2006, Attorney
General opinion finding custody relinquishment unnecessary for children
to receive mandated services under current state law. During the course
of the review, however, it was discovered that state policy also contributed
to custody relinquishment. This policy was found to be in conflict with
the law. Upon release of the Follow-Up Report, Ms. Molliet-Ribet emphasized,
immediate action was taken to revise state policy to comply with state
law. Ms. Molliet-Ribet also reported that the Follow-Up Report sought
to estimate the fiscal impact on the CSA Program resulting from changes
in state policy undertaken in response to the findings of the Follow-Up
Report. The final estimated impact of the program was $21.2 million, with
the state share equaling $13.4 million and the local share equaling $7.8
million. In conclusion, Ms. Molliet-Ribet noted that proper implementation
of the new state policy would hinge upon clear definitions of key terms.
Additionally, gaps in availability of community-based services could compound
the fiscal impact of repealed State policy and undermine the state's ability
to serve children in the least restrictive setting, as required by the
Ms. McGaughey reported that the Secretary had taken immediate steps to
release a memorandum containing emergency guidelines to ensure compliance
with state law. Stakeholder groups were organized and interagency guidelines
were drafted and distributed to be available during the required sixty
day comment period. The State Executive Council is expected to take action
on the guidelines on August 8, and the guidelines are expected to go into
effect on August 15.
The next meeting of the joint subcommittee will be posted on the study
website when available.
The Hon. Emmett
W. Hanger, Jr.
Sarah Stanton and
Patrick Cushing, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2007
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