Child Safety and Welfare Budget Brief: Child Services and Health & Human Services

Budget Brief: Child Services and Health & Human Services

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Hearing Date: November 30, 2010

Testifying Agencies:

DCS

DCS Ombudsman

Department of Health

ITPC

School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

School for the Deaf

Presentation Highlights:


* NOTE: The “base rate” is the annual appropriation recommended by the State Budget Agency. This year, the base rate reflects cuts made under the governor’s 15% budget reduction target, not the amount last appropriated by the General Assembly.

Department of Child Services (DCS)- In 2005 The Department of Child Services was created to focus solely on providing protection and support to Indiana’s abused, neglected and custodial children by administering the state’s child protection and child support functions. Since 2005 DCS has undergone massive structural changes and has been in an ongoing process to determine and design best practices for this agency. Some of those changes have resulted in positive changes, like improving the rate of child support collection from 50.7% up to 58.2%. Other changes like the DCS’s inability to pursue Medicaid initiatives and grant funding because their staff has been tied up with updating accounting systems indicate some of the limitations brought about by the restructure.

The DCS budget request presentation also discussed the accomplishments and challenges of the past five years (see page 6)  while providing updates about the recent increase in abuse and neglect cases (see page 7) , child support collection levels  (see page 8), and the recent litigation (see page 7) involving residential, licensed child placing and adoption rates (which were rolled back to the reimbursement rates of 2009 levels). DCS’s FY 2011-2012 budget request of $528,947,212 represents a -2.76% decrease from the state budget agency’s recommended base rate.*

DCS Ombudsman- The DCS Ombudsman Bureau was created in 2009 by the Indiana State Legislature.  The Bureau has the authority to receive, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints concerning the actions of the Department of Child Services (DCS) and to make recommendations to improve the child welfare system.  The Bureau operates independently of DCS and is housed in the Department of Administration.

The DCS Ombudsman’s report included information about the number of complaints received and investigated in the third quarter of 2010 (59 total complaints) and outlined general plans for continuing to design investigative procedures and best practices for monitoring DCS. The DCS Ombudsman requested $247,452 for FY 2011-2013. This amount is equal to the base rate* that was recommended by the State Budget Agency.

Department of Health (ISDH)- The ISDH’s primary responsibility is to strengthen Indiana’s overall health ratings and help lower health care costs and expenses by providing education, outreach, and assistance that encourages and allows Indiana’s citizens to make healthier choices and lead healthier lives. This mission leads ISDH’s to be in charge of an enormous number of  public health activities that encompass a variety of issue areas: cancer monitoring , pre-natal care, laboratory analyses, birth and death record-keeping, all hazards preparedness, nutrition vouchers, immunizations, health care regulation, etc. According to the agency’s testimony to the Budget Committee, 91% of the ISDH’s budget is derived from state dedicated funds and Federal Funds and grants.

The Department of Health’s budget request from the general fund adhered to the base rate* and requested the same amount of general fund money ($31,160,541) that was recommended by the State Budget Agency.

Other important factors to consider when analyzing the ISDH budget:

  • Indiana spends over $2.2 billion dollars annually for tobacco related illnesses.
  • Indiana has high incidences of various tobacco related cancers, respiratory failures and an ever expanding diabetes population.
  • 61% of Hoosiers are considered overweight and nearly 26% are obese.

Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (ITPC)- The ITPC’s budget is derived solely from the Indiana Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund which was created by the General Assembly in 2000. The Fund was established to ensure that money received from the Tobacco Master Settlement Fund Agreement, where Indiana and other states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of tobacco-related health care costs, would continue to serve their original purpose. In the lawsuit, the tobacco companies agreed to curtail certain tobacco marketing practices, as well as to pay, in perpetuity, various annual payments to the states to compensate them for some of the medical costs of caring for persons with smoking related illnesses.

Although the ITPC is served from that Dedicated Fund, the ITPC’s funding was decreased by 36.95% or $6,820,585 between FY 2008 and FY 2009. A proposal to dissolve the ITPC completely was considered during the 2010 Session, with the ISDH absorbing its responsibilities.

At the Budget Committee meeting on November 30, the ITPC was asked if it may be able to reduce its overall budget if the statewide smoking ban became law. This may offer a trade off for both supporters of such legislation and fiscal conservatives looking for ways to tighten the budget.

See the ITPC’s Agency Overview for additional statistics about the success of ITPC programs and estimations about how those programs contribute to long term savings for the state.

School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI)- The mission of the ISBVI is to serve as a benchmark for educating student who are blind or have low vision, guiding each student down his/her unique path to meaningful adulthood.

In 2009, there were 973 students ages 3-21 identified as having a visual impairment as their primary handicapping condition in the state of Indiana. ISBVI served approximately 210 students on its campus, provided 7,548 contact and services through its outreach program, and served 1,250 individuals during workshops and outreach training programs.

The school requested $10,629,722 for FY 2011-2012. This amount is equal to the base rate* that was recommended by the State Budget Agency.

School for the Deaf (ISD)- The ISD is a state educational resource center that includes a residential and day school, outreach services, and consultative services to local education agencies to assist them in meeting the needs of locally enrolled students with hearing disabilities. ISD’s recent expansion of consultation to school districts saved money for public school systems, as they provide needed student services at no cost to the public schools.

ISD further proved its stewardship by explaining its plans to collaborate with the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to provide more cost-effective dietary services, laundry services and campus police services. The School for the Deaf requested $16,339,807 for FY 2011-2012. This amount is equal to the base rate* that was recommended by the State Budget Agency.