Category Archives: Social.Services

Privatization of child welfare services: Lessons learned from experienced states regarding site readiness assessment and planning

Source: Chris Flaherty, Crystal Collins-Camargoa, Elizabeth Leeb, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 30, Issue 7, July 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Private agencies have a long history of providing child welfare services in the U.S. Recent attempts to improve efficiency, service quality and innovation have prompted some jurisdictions to expand privatization of these services to a broader segment of the service array. Lessons learned by public agency administrators, private providers and community stakeholders are reported….Numerous commonly shared themes emerged including: creating a shared vision for change among a range of key stakeholders, the necessity of initial and ongoing leadership to sustain efforts, challenges in establishing performance standards, and the importance of building trust and communication between partners. Findings have important implications for jurisdictions contemplating expansion of privatized child welfare services…

Ind. official: Proposal may affect food stamps

Source: By KEN KUSMER , Associated Press (IN), 08.21.08, 11:34 AM ET

Indiana’s human services agency is considering further changes in the way it processes food stamps that likely would cost some clients their benefits, agency chief Mitch Roob said after lawmakers questioned him about the proposal. Roob, secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration, on Wednesday also distributed to lawmakers and reporters a letter from a federal food stamp administrator noting the state had improved its timeliness in processing applications.

…….. The new rule, which still must cross several hurdles before being adopted, would require food stamp applicants to submit required documents within 30 days – instead of 60 – or risk having to start the application process all over again from scratch, Roob said.

Rollout of Indiana welfare changes halted

Source: By Francesca Jarosz, Heather Gillers, Tim Evans and Bill Ruthhart, Indianapolis Star (IN), July 31, 2008

………. Byrd and other needy Hoosiers are being forced to wait too long for food stamp applications to be processed by a private contractor, according to federal officials who have ordered the state to stop the rollout of its welfare modernization project. The federal action represents a major blow to the controversial privatization effort that is one of the keystones of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ first term. A similar privatization project in Texas was canceled last year, two years into the five-year project, amid similar problems.

State officials ready to field welfare questions

Source: By Arthur Foulkes, The Tribune-Star (IN), August 12, 2008

……. Opponents of Indiana’s new intake system, which uses a private company, IBM, to handle the telephone and Internet client contacts, have organized a number of meetings around the state. Such a meeting took place last month in Terre Haute, where around 150 people attended, many speaking strongly against the system.

Complaints about the new system range from long wait times on the telephone to lost client paperwork and needless delays. Critics also say that many welfare recipients are unable to use the telephone or Internet application system.

EDITORIAL: Welfare in Indiana

Source: Courier Press (IN), July 23, 2008

Even before Indiana privatized its welfare application process a year ago, the system was plagued with problems. It was one of the motivations driving Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision to contract with a private vendor to modernize the application process for food stamps, Medicaid and other programs for 1.1 million Hoosiers.

……. Welfare is a government entitlement program, one intended to give a boost to people who need assistance. And that seems a task best carried out by people backed up by computers rather than computers backed up by people. Granted, those people should be better trained with better tools than the state was offering before privatization arrived. Alas, Indiana is committed for now to going forward with its private contractors’ automated system.

Public Benefits Privatization and Modernization: Recent Developments and Advocacy

Source: By Mary R. Mannix, Cary LaCheen, Henry A. Freedman, and Marc Cohan From May-June 2008 Clearinghouse Review (subscription req.)

More states are contracting with private vendors to administer benefit programs and “modernizing” program administration by closing welfare offices in favor of “call centers” and online access. These changes affect low-income people–changes that are potentially beneficial but too often harmful, especially for vulnerable population groups such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Advocates in four states that have implemented privatization or modernization have had some successes in protecting clients from harmful effects and have gained experience relevant in other states that pursue similar policies.

Flood needs delay rollout of welfare changes

Source: By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press Writer (IN), 4:52 PM CDT, June 23, 2008

The state has suspended the rollout of automated welfare benefits because staffers at the Family and Social Services Administration have their hands full right now with helping flood victims. The urgent need to help flood victims became apparent so quickly that within days of the heavy June 7 rainfall that precipitated the flooding, top FSSA managers sent e-mail messages to employees saying they were suspending the rollout indefinitely.

…… The delay also gives FSSA and its team of vendors led by IBM Corp. and Affiliated Computer Services Inc. more time to work out some of the bugs that have plagued the welfare changes since their inception Oct. 29 in 12 north central counties.

Public Benefits Privatization and Modernization: Recent Developments and Advocacy

Source: By Mary R. Mannix, Cary LaCheen, Henry A. Freedman, and Marc Cohan, Clearinghouse Review (subscription req.), May-June 2008

More states are contracting with private vendors to administer benefit programs and “modernizing” program administration by closing welfare offices in favor of “call centers” and online access. These changes affect low-income people–changes that are potentially beneficial but too often harmful, especially for vulnerable population groups such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Advocates in four states that have implemented privatization or modernization have had some successes in protecting clients from harmful effects and have gained experience relevant in other states that pursue similar policies.

Privatization of State Administrative Services

Source: Drury D. Stevenson, Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 68, 2008

From the abstract:
Privatization of government services has been touted as a cost-savings approach for state agencies, promising to harness the efficiencies of market forces to overcome the perceived inefficiencies of bureaucracies. Empirical and anecdotal evidence indicates that such savings rarely materialize, and instead outsourcing is often a bad deal for taxpayers. This paper explores the inherent problems in the contractual arrangements for these attempts at government outsourcing. Perverse incentives, transaction costs, non-competitive bidding, the nature of government services handled on the state level, and conflicting legal rules regarding interpretation all contribute to the failure of privatization for the states.

ACLU lawsuit targets Indiana welfare changes

Source: By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press (IN), 3:49 PM CDT, May 19, 2008

Problems with Indiana’s landmark automation of welfare eligibility have cost some disabled residents food stamps and other benefits they need to survive, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that seeks class-action status.

….. The case was amended Friday in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis to include members of six households, all residents of the 12-county region where FSSA inaugurated the privatized welfare system by which clients can use the Internet, call centers and fax machines to apply for and renew benefits.