Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

SJR 75: Joint Subcommittee Studying the Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families

December 1, 2008

The third meeting of the Joint Subcommittee Studying the Comprehensive Services Program for At-Risk Youth and Families was held on December 1, 2008, in Portsmouth. Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., gave opening remarks and announced that a final meeting would be held in early January in Richmond.


Nathalie Molliet-Ribet, CSA Administrative Costs and Funding
The first speaker was Nathalie Molliet-Ribet, who spoke on the issue of administrative costs and funding for the CSA program. JLARC first studied this issue in 2006, and her presentation came from that study. Ms. Molliet-Ribet went over the purpose of administrative funding and the role of CSA staff in administering the program. She pointed out that localities with CSA coordinators had lower overall costs than localities that did not. Localities receive an average of $14,600 per year from the state to administer CSA, an amount that has been level since 1997. Localities must supplement this money with local funds. Most still do not have full-time CSA coordinators. Some instead have part-time staff or none at all, which adversely affects localities in many areas, including negotiating contracts with providers, monitoring outcomes, and identifying alternate funding sources.
Delegate Hamilton pointed out that funding for this program is skewed against localities, more so than other programs.

Gail Schreiner, Reynold Jordan, and Dr. Roderick Hawthorne, Portsmouth CSA
The next speakers were representatives of Portsmouth's CSA program. They discussed some of their more innovative programs. One such program includes therapeutic day treatment in public schools for students with emotional problems. They also discussed the importance of holding FAPT meetings in schools in order to bring in more parents. They stressed that going into schools is key to early intervention.

Portsmouth also has innovative foster care programs, including the CARES program, which includes parent/family training for foster families and individualized services for children. The program is a public/private partnership, which creates more value with higher quality services for the children. There is also a homeless brokerage program, which finds ways to keep children out of foster care by keeping families from becoming homeless. The program looks for landlords to lower rents, waive deposits, and also offers to oversee tenants. Keeping families together is ultimately less traumatic for the child as well as cost effective for the state.

Portsmouth has had some success with its CSA program, such as 271 children served in fiscal year 2008 and for the past two years the congregate care rate has been 11% (national best practice is 10%). However, there are still problems, for example, permanent placement for a 16 year old coming into foster care is just not feasible before they age out of the system. The group concluded with a final message that CSA can work and the Portsmouth DSS demonstrates this with its successful programs.

Dr. Susan Dye, Virginia Beach CSA
The next speaker was Dr. Susan Dye of the Virginia Beach CSA program. She also gave an overview of some of its successful programs, including the Pendleton Child Service Center, which is a private facility that offers a three month residential program for children in Virginia Beach. The program requires intense parental involvement, in fact, parents must be there five days a week. They are also starting to use professional foster homes, which are homes with highly trained parents who do not work outside of the home. These parents have shown some success in working with challenging children, however, recruitment of such parents is difficult.

Virginia Beach currently has about 40 of its 700 CSA children in residential care. Many of these children have juvenile justice problems. Community-based group homes seem more appropriate for these children, perhaps because their backgrounds have made them so unaccustomed to a family environment. Virginia Beach is also facing challenges with its CSA program, including children who are not responsive to treatment, children who age out, and especially in the Virginia Beach area, problems with children of military families. Military families with special needs children are often transferred here because of the specialized services available, however, no additional funds, federal or otherwise, are appropriated for this purpose. For this reason, military families are adding strain to the Virginia Beach CSA budget.

Denise Gallop and Mike Terkeltaub, Hampton/Newport News CSA
Denise Gallop of the Hampton CSA spoke about how the program is currently focused on looking at data previously collected and using this data to improve the program. One important lesson CSA has learned from the data is that families need to be more involved in the process. Ms. Gallop stressed that CSA would not have realized this was a problem if not for the data, and now this is an area it focuses on improving.

She also discussed a program called Youth in Fast Forward, which was initiated by a local judge, Judge Jay Dugger. The program is modeled after a program to send adults back to work and has now been modified for young adults aging out of the foster care system. The program brings public and private providers together to help young people transition out of foster care and into successful adult lives.

Ms. Gallop noted the importance of core values and beliefs to success—help one child at a time; families are the experts about their families; programs must be child-centered and family-focused; and to realize progress begins with the outcome, not the process.

Final meeting

The joint subcommittee will meet again in January to vote on any final recommendations for the 2009 Session.

The Hon. Emmett Hanger, Jr.

Vice Chairman:
The Hon. Phillip Hamilton

For information, contact:
Sarah Stanton and Jessica Eades, DLS Staff

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2008

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