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Human Services Transition Team Final 121906

Human Services Transition Team Final 121906

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Published by Susie Cambria
Human Services Transition Team

Final Report and Recommendations

Introduction

The Human Services Transition Team was tasked with making specific recommendations for achieving better outcomes for District residents in need of services provided by human services cluster agencies. The human services cluster is responsible for delivering a diverse and complex set of services that literally cover all aspects of life from conception to death providing services ranging from pregnancy prevention to burial assistance. The cluster is comprised of the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Employment Services, Office on Aging, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and the Child and Family Services Agency. In order fully assess the wide variety of challenging issues under the purview of these agencies the human services team assembled seven work groups to develop recommendations in the following services areas: 1) Senior Services 2) Child Welfare; 3) Homelessness; 4) Developmental Disabilities; 5) Juvenile Rehabilitation; 6) Family Support Services; and 7) Positive Youth Development.

This report will include the specific recommendations of the work groups as well as recommendations that the co-team leaders have identified as areas that should be given focused attention during the first year of the administration. Recommendations where possible are stated in three month, six month, and twelve month deliverables. The work group recommendations are the result of online chats and face-to-face meetings during which the groups addressed: 1) identifying priority needs/issues; 2) barriers to service delivery; and 3) solutions/recommendations. This report will discuss each of the areas discussed above with detailed attention on recommendations that will enhance the administration’s ability to prioritize initiatives and reform efforts in the human services cluster during the next year resulting in better outcomes for District residents.
Human Services Transition Team

Final Report and Recommendations

Introduction

The Human Services Transition Team was tasked with making specific recommendations for achieving better outcomes for District residents in need of services provided by human services cluster agencies. The human services cluster is responsible for delivering a diverse and complex set of services that literally cover all aspects of life from conception to death providing services ranging from pregnancy prevention to burial assistance. The cluster is comprised of the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Employment Services, Office on Aging, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and the Child and Family Services Agency. In order fully assess the wide variety of challenging issues under the purview of these agencies the human services team assembled seven work groups to develop recommendations in the following services areas: 1) Senior Services 2) Child Welfare; 3) Homelessness; 4) Developmental Disabilities; 5) Juvenile Rehabilitation; 6) Family Support Services; and 7) Positive Youth Development.

This report will include the specific recommendations of the work groups as well as recommendations that the co-team leaders have identified as areas that should be given focused attention during the first year of the administration. Recommendations where possible are stated in three month, six month, and twelve month deliverables. The work group recommendations are the result of online chats and face-to-face meetings during which the groups addressed: 1) identifying priority needs/issues; 2) barriers to service delivery; and 3) solutions/recommendations. This report will discuss each of the areas discussed above with detailed attention on recommendations that will enhance the administration’s ability to prioritize initiatives and reform efforts in the human services cluster during the next year resulting in better outcomes for District residents.

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Published by: Susie Cambria on Dec 24, 2013
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1
Human Services Transition Team
Final Report and Recommendations
 by
Susie Cambria
, MSW, Deputy Director/Public Policy DC Action for Children
C Mustaafa Dozier
, Esq., Government Affairs and Labor Relations Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services
Introduction The Human Services Transition Team was tasked with making specific recommendations for achieving better outcomes for District residents in need of services provided by human services cluster agencies. The human services cluster is responsible for delivering a diverse and complex set of services that literally cover all aspects of life from conception to death providing services ranging from pregnancy prevention to burial assistance. The cluster is comprised of the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Employment Services, Office on Aging, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and the Child and Family Services Agency. In order fully assess the wide variety of challenging issues under the purview of these agencies the human services team assembled seven work groups to develop recommendations in the following services areas: 1)
 Senior Services
2)
 Child Welfare;
3)
 Homelessness;
4)
 Developmental Disabilities;
5)
 Juvenile Rehabilitation;
6)
 Family Support Services
; and 7)
Positive Youth Development
. This report will include the specific recommendations of the work groups as well as recommendations that the co-team leaders have identified as areas that should be given focused attention during the first year of the administration. Recommendations where possible are stated in three month, six month, and twelve month deliverables. The work group recommendations are the result of online chats and face-to-face meetings during which the groups addressed:
1) identifying priority needs/issues; 2) barriers to service delivery; and 3) solutions/recommendations
. This report will discuss each of the areas discussed above with detailed attention on recommendations that will enhance the administ
ration’s ability to prioritize
initiatives and reform efforts in the human services cluster during the next year resulting in better outcomes for District residents. Recommendations from Co-Leaders As indicated in the introduction this report will include recommendations developed by seven work groups. The co-leaders had the opportunity to participate in the on-line chats and face-to-face meetings of each sub-committee allowing us to determine common barriers, themes, and solutions amongst the work groups. The following recommendations are those of the co-leaders and are made in addition to the work group recommendations. These recommendations reflect issues that are common to multiple agencies and service areas.
 
 
2
Interagency Collaboration
The most common re-occurring theme that was shared between the work groups was the need for increased interagency collaboration. This theme is not a new one, and in fact was one that was often discussed as a priority by the outgoing Williams administration. While we will not use this report as a vehicle to critique the past, we cannot stress enough that universal agreement on the
need for interagency collaboration reflects the District’s failure to develop and implement
 programming that effectively marshals multiple agency resources to achieve better outcomes for District residents. While there are successful interagency models that exist throughout the nation there is no one model that can easily be duplicated addressing the wide array of challenges posed to the District. The administration will need to champion a very balanced and innovative approach, striking harmony between best practices and tailoring programs to the unique needs and culture of the District. The work group reports will include more detailed recommendations for specific interagency collaborations, below are recommendations the co-leaders would advise the administration to explore during the next year:
Blended Funding
Managing and effectively providing human services is a challenging task because individuals seldom require services from only one of the neatly compartmentalized departments of District government. A TANF recipient who requires training to become job ready may also need substance abuse counseling. A court-involved youth may require mentoring, substance abuse counseling, and mental health services. The challenge to the government is funding services for multiple needs delivered by multiple agencies while not duplicating services or wasting resources. Currently the agency that initially places a client on a caseload carries the fiscal  burden associated with providing for their multiple needs. Commonly District agencies enter into MOUs with sister agencies to provide services to clients of the other agency. While the logic of MOUs is clear, however it is not as clear whether we are getting the most for our money. Blended funding and collaborative case management would streamline service delivery, create operational savings, and most importantly remove layers of bureaucratic barriers that impede or dissuade residents from accessing needed services. The unfortunate reality is that District agencies are hesitant to wholeheartedly enter into interagency collaborations because of the fiscal impact these ventures have on their agency budgets. The Executive has the ability to enhance the likelihood of successful interagency collaborations by blending funding and eliminating a major hurdle that has continued to discourage collaboration
 – 
 the agencies themselves.
Information Sharing
Another common theme identified by the Team co-leaders and the work groups was information sharing. Residents, clients, providers, and advocates alike view many agencies as guarded when it comes to sharing information. This issue is one that we could take several pages illustrating. But routinely our agencies fail to openly share program details with clients and advocates; fail to share information related to new opportunities and programming changes with providers/vendors; as well as sharing basic operational information with sister agencies. Far too often individuals are left feeling like investigators when they seek to access services or do business with our agencies. The time is ripe for the incoming administration to raise the blinds and open the doors to our government. The incoming administration should challenge all agency directors to change the mindset and culture of customer service and information sharing within their agencies. Individuals seeking services or information should not be left to feel like they are an annoyance or a burden. Our agencies have failed to embrace the spirit of partnership with the community,
 
 
3
and as a result residents, clients, providers, and advocates are left pursuing information from agencies rather than the agencies openly sharing information with the public as they would with any respected partner. One example that stands out was discussed in the Developmental Disabilities Workgroup. When MRDDA relocated their main office many parents of consumers were not aware of the move. It should be unacceptable for an administration to relocate and the consumers that access their services are not provided notice in advance. We would recommend that the Mayor examine this issue with each agency within the human services cluster. While there is not a one size fit all solution, there are great improvements that can be made for each agency in the human services cluster. Agency directors and designated staff often attend ward  based and larger community meetings. These directors should be proactive and host smaller meetings geared only toward the consumers and providers within their service areas. The District also has to improve its capacity to effectively collect, maintain, and share information and data within the government. The District is on the verge of making the Safe Passages database, also known as HSMP, a live and robust tool that achieves its promise for tracking services delivered to children and youth. However, a number of significant challenges remain and this is where the Fenty administration can make a real difference. Some of the challenges are:
o
 
Coordinating with EdSMP, the DCPS data collection and management system. DCPS is struggling to make EdSMP fully operational. While the Fenty administration may or may not choose to assist DCPS with the challenges, the fact remains that without the integration of EdSMP and HSMP the promise of better tracking services, reducing duplication of efforts, maximizing resources and ensuring the best outcomes for the city's children and youth will not be realized. Millions of dollars have been invested in both systems and every effort must be made to make them live and integrated in the very near future.
o
 
Ensuring line staff enter data in a timely manner. While there is great promise with  both EdSMP and HSMP, the fact remains that the success of both systems rests on the shoulders of already busy staff. FACES, the Child and Family Services Agency data system, is a good example. At the same time that social worker caseloads have  been reduced, workers continue to struggle with inputting case management and service data that would assist that agency and others with providing the most appropriate services while at the same time reducing the need to re-enter basic information. Multiple solutions for CFSA and other agencies exist. The Fenty administration should make solving this problem a priority.
o
 
Resolving outstanding confidentiality issues. The city must move quickly to pass the "Safe Passages Information Exchange Amendment Act of 2006" in order to facilitate the sharing of information in HSMP and EdSMP.
Personnel and Procurement
The incoming administration inherits two issues that have historically challenged District leadership
 – 
 personnel and procurement. These issues have been such challenges that in the year 2000 when the Department of Mental Health and the Child and Family Services Agency were exiting receivership it was determined that independent personnel and procurement authority would be critical to their sustained success. Years later many would proffer that District agencies with independent personnel and procurement authority are every bit as dysfunctional as the centralized system they were empowered to escape. Whether it be agencies with independent authority or the agencies under the purview of the centralized departments, personnel and

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