DHS News

2017-19 Governor's Recommended Budget (GRB) for the Oregon Department of Human Services

To: DHS Staff
Message from DHS Director Clyde Saiki

December 1, 2016

FYI: As the Governor said at this morning's news conference, the GRB “represents the beginning of a conversation, not the end – the conversation about who we are as a state; where we want to go, and what we're willing to do to get there.”

One of Oregon's greatest responsibilities is ensuring the health and well-being of her people, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. While the economy is rebounding, and the state's job growth and unemployment rate are outperforming the national average, there are still families being left behind in the recovery. Hours and wages reflect an uneven pace of recovery, particularly in rural Oregon. Access to affordable housing continues to be barrier statewide. The high cost of child care may prevent families from returning to work or puts undue economic burden on them. Hunger is still an issue for Oregon children and families. For young people, the transition from school to higher education or work is difficult, particularly for people with disabilities. Oregon has a higher rate of youth entering the foster care system and higher-than-average abuse while in foster care. To address the multitude of issues families face, the state plays a major role in effective interventions with children, youth, and vulnerable adults and families that can prevent or reduce the impact of toxic stress and break the generational cycles of poverty, child abuse, drug and alcohol dependence, and domestic violence.

The mission of the Department of Human Services (DHS) is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve safety, well-being and independence through services that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. DHS is responsible for the care of some of Oregon's most vulnerable citizens – children, youth, families, older adults and people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. DHS is also responsible for serving Oregonians at times when they are most in need – when they have experienced abuse, when they are hungry, when they are homeless. DHS's success in that effort depends upon nearly 8,000 employees across the state, as well as upon thousands of community and service delivery partners, all of whom are dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of Oregonians.

The agency works to achieve the following goals:

  • Every Oregon child and youth in our care deserves to grow up safely -- with support for success in school;
  • Every Oregon adult deserves to live in safety – free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation;
  • Every Oregonian has the right to live as independently as possible -- with dignity, choice and self-determination;
  • Every Oregonian can work to the best of their abilities to contribute to their family and their community; and
  • All Oregonians deserve efficient and effective services from DHS.

DHS maintains its commitment to safety, transparency, and improvements that use the state's resources efficiently and effectively. Every year, more than one million people rely on DHS services to meet their most basic needs, to be safe, to live as independently as possible, and to support their efforts to achieve economic independence. The Governor's Budget for DHS maintains and enhances the Governor's commitments to achieving key outcomes for Oregonians while responsibly managing inflationary growth.

Below is a summary of the key program investments proposed by the Governor to balance the DHS budget and meet the needs of Oregon's most vulnerable residents:

Investments in the DHS Child Welfare Program will help improve capacity to provide safe and permanent living environments for foster children of all ages. Child Welfare Programs serve children and families when children are subject to abuse and neglect. Child protection workers respond to all reports of child abuse/neglect. If a child cannot be safe at home, a foster care placement is made. Child Welfare has a renewed focus and energy around keeping children safe and reducing its foster care population, by implementing a system that prevents out-of-home placements and increases a timely and safe return to families. The Governor's Budget:

  • Adds $7.7 million GF for new staff in Child Welfare. This investment supports additional case worker and screening positions to help ensure safety for children and youth who are victims of child abuse and neglect.
  • Adds $4.1 million GF for rate increases for Behavioral Health Service Providers. This package is about child and youth safety as well as maintaining access to this essential part of the system serving Oregon's most needy children. Increases to the rate will help reduce pressure on these important providers as costs increase.
  • Adds $7.9 million GF for rate increases for family foster care providers. Families coming forward to provide foster care has continued to diminish over the last 5 years in part due to the low reimbursement rates. Oregon is currently providing only 40-46% of the actual cost of care, and this increase will help Oregon recruit and retain foster families – providing safe, appropriate placements.
  • Adds $6.9 million GF to support legal representation for case workers. This investment will provide DHS caseworkers with continuous representation which, in turn, will promote attorney-caseworker collaboration, improve caseworker job satisfaction and retention, avoid the risk for unlawful practice of law by case workers, and improve the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the system.
  • Continues funding for other core services in order to keep children and youth safe.

Investments in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services program (I/DD) will provide support across the lifespan to Oregonians. The I/DD program strives to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families within communities by promoting and providing services that are person-centered, self-directed, flexible, community inclusive, culturally appropriate, and supportive of the discovery and development of each individual's unique gifts, talents and abilities. As a result of the state's adoption of the Community First Choice Option (or K plan), an increased number of children and adults with I/DD are able to access Medicaid funded, community-based services to meet their needs, instead of having to meet crisis eligibility in order to access the appropriate level of support. The Governor had to make difficult choices in this section of the budget:

  • Adds $22.3 million GF for rate increases for I/DD Direct Service Providers. This funding will increase safety for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities because providers will be better able to hire, train and retain adequate staff to meet individuals' needs and assure their health and safety.
  • Continues to protect the eligibility requirements for individuals who qualify for assistance by funding anticipated increases in caseloads and cost per case, including GF backfill of changes in the federal match rate for certain grants.

Investments in the Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) program will assist a diverse population of older adults and people with physical disabilities to achieve well-being through opportunities for community living, employment, family support and long term services and supports that promote independence, choice and dignity. The program seeks to achieve the following goals: Ensure the safety and protection of the population we serve with a focus on prevention; Facilitate broad awareness of, and easy access to, services; Invest in preventive services to keep people independent, safe and healthy for longer periods of time; Provide person centered services and supports; and serve people in an equitable and culturally sensitive manner. The Governor also had to make difficult choices in this budget:

  • Continues funding for Service Priority Levels 1-13. This investment will continue current Medicaid service levels for all clients.
  • Protects current caseload and eligibility criteria.
  • Supports a staffing level of a net 90.4 percent of the workload model by the end of the biennium, based on the fall 2016 caseload forecast.

Investments in the Self-Sufficiency Program help DHS meet the emotional and material needs of program participants, and ensure that every family has an educational or career pathway to economic security before leaving SSP. SSP is designed to provide low-income Oregonians with services to create stability and prepare participants for employment so they are equipped to work their way out of poverty. The programs emphasize the safety and healthy development of children, and often serve to prevent abuse or neglect that may lead to out-of-home placement in the more expensive foster care program. The Governor's Budget maintains current eligibility, timeline and benefit standards for Self-Sufficiency programs:

  • Funds the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families time limit at 60 months. TANF is one of the most important programs for stabilizing families, assisting them in returning to work keeping children safely at home with families (and out of the child welfare system).
  • Invests $20.5 million GF into the TANF re-investment initiative (started in 2015-17) under HB 3535. This is a package of policy and program changes to increase family engagement and stability.

The 2017-19 GRB investment for Vocational Rehabilitation is $114 million total funds ($27 million GF). VR services assist Oregonians with disabilities to achieve and maintain employment and independence, and employees provide direct services through a network of local offices across Oregon.

Investments in DHS Central and Shared Services will support important programs that assist the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority, as well as other state programs. The Central Services program provides the leadership and business supports necessary to achieve the mission of the agency. The Governor's Budget:

  • Adds $6.1 million General Fund (GF) to increase staffing for the Background Check Unit. The result of this investment will be faster background checks to assist regulated Oregon employers in meeting their required staffing levels while maintaining health, safety and financial wellness for Oregonians.
  • Adds $9.5 million GF (not including debt service) for two important technology systems, Integrated Eligibility and Centralized Abuse Management. The Integrated Eligibility Project will automate eligibility for non-MAGI Medicaid, ERDC, SNAP and TANF -- modernizing parts of our systems and improving the ability for Oregonians to have a single process of applying for these benefits. The Centralized Abuse Management System will replace a patchwork of haphazard solutions for records related to adult protective services, mental health investigations and more.
  • Adds $10 million GF Special Purpose Appropriation funding for salaries for non-state employee bargaining

The Governor's Budget includes the following program reductions for the Department of Human Services:

  • Eliminates the General Assistance program that was passed earlier in 2016 in HB 4042 - $1.9 million GF.
  • Eliminates the Live-In Program in Aging and People with Disabilities as of 7/1/2017 - $20.8 million GF. The program will convert most clients to the in-home hourly program.
  • Eliminates Oregon Project Independence for people with disabilities; in addition, it reduces the remainder of the program expenditures by 75% - $22 million GF total.
  • Holds Nursing Facility rates at the 6/30/2017 level - $18.3 million GF.
  • Implements a partial reduction (50%) in the complex medical add-on for nursing facilities - $6.6 million GF.
  • Eliminates the Family to Family Network for I/DD - $1.3 million GF.
  • Eliminates Regional Staff for I/DD - $4.8 million GF.
  • Expends $6 million in funding from the Fairview Housing Trust and makes a one-time investment in the DHS I/DD program's K-Plan services.
  • Reduces Brokerage and Community Developmental Disabilities Programs (CDDP) equity funding from 95% to 91% - $3.5 million GF.
  • Eliminates the Oregon Enterprise Data Analytics program - $1 million GF.
  • Provides only flat funding for most Services and Supplies (eliminates inflation)
  • Reduces DHS Personal Services funding by $7 million GF.
  • Transfers some Information Technology Security positions to the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, based on the Governor's cyber security executive order - $0.4 million GF.

Please let me know if you have any questions!
-- Clyde

E-subscribe to receive Director's Messages