Category Archives: Social.Services

Lawsuit goes after state computer contractors for unemployment insurance flap

Source: Emily Lawler, MLive, March 8, 2017

Michiganders who say they were falsely flagged for unemployment fraud by the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency computer system are going after the state contractors who provided the technology in a federal lawsuit. … From Oct. 2013 through Aug. 2015, a state computer system flagged people for fraudulent unemployment claims. In some cases it sent a message to an online unemployment account they’d stopped using long ago, and then automatically found people guilty when they did not reply and assessed 400 percent fines. The UIA is currently reviewing 50,000 potential cases of fraud flagged during that time period. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, is going after the computer companies behind the computer technology that flagged and automatically determined people had committed fraud. It names three vendors involved with the UIA’s computer system: FAST Enterprises, SAS Analytics and CSG Government Solutions. The suit claims those state vendors violated the 4th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution and parts of the state constitution as well. … People who were determined to have received overpayments were required to pay back the amount plus a 400 percent penalty. … Two of the companies named in the suit still have active contracts with the state to service its unemployment agency. FAST Enterprises has a $47 million contract to modernize UIA computer systems and SAS Analytics has a $14.2 million contract for fraud detection at the UIA and the Food Assistance Program. …

Pennsylvania Just Sued IBM Over an Allegedly Botched $100 Million Project

Source: Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, March 10, 2017

The state of Pennsylvania is suing IBM. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration said this week that it filed a lawsuit against the business technology giant over allegations that IBM failed to live up to a contract to update the state’s unemployment claims system. The allegedly botched project dates back to 2006 when the state hired IBM to replace its old unemployment payment technology, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pennsylvania said that IBM was supposed to finish the $109.9 million project by Feb. 2010, but that the work stalled. Ultimately, Pennsylvania decided to let its contract with IBM expire in Sept. 2013. By that time, the project was “45 months behind schedule and $60 million over budget,” the statement says. … “All told, Pennsylvania taxpayers paid IBM nearly $170 million for what was supposed to be a comprehensive, integrated, and modern system that it never got,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. He added that the Department of Labor and Industry has instead been forced to maintain its unemployment payment system “through a collection of aging, costly legacy systems, incurring tens of millions of dollars in server, support and maintenance costs.” … One reason for IBM’s alleged delay in completing the project is because of high employee turnover within the company during that time, reported the Post-Gazette. Additionally, Pennsylvania claims that IBM misrepresented several parts of the project that it said were complete at the time, even though the state alleged that software errors in the system remained. …

‘Foster Shock’ documentary takes Florida’s privatized child welfare system to task

Source: Les Neuhaus, SaintPetersBlog, March 13, 2017

A documentary film about Florida’s privatized child welfare and fostering programs — made by a Guardian ad Litem and filmmaker from Palm Beach — casts a draconian look at what happens to children when they are taken from abusive situations at home and become dependents of the state, at taxpayer expense, often to their peril. “Foster Shock,” which is currently being screened around the state at community viewings and nationally film festivals, was directed and produced by Mari Frankel, who has also served as a Guardian ad Litem (person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the best interests of a child) for the last several years. … Her film paints the picture of a bleak and broken system funded to the tune of roughly $3 billion per year of Florida taxpayer money. The film also argues that a sizable chunk of that money often goes to the six-figure salaries of the executives running the so-called “community-based care” agencies (CBCs), like Eckerd Kids, whose own executive director, David Dennis, earned $708,028 in the fiscal year 2015, according to publicly-available IRS 990 statements. But the children sometimes wind up in group homes, or foster homes, where they are abused or even killed – maliciously or by neglect. There have been a string of widely-publicized incidents the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has had to ultimately deal with in recent years, but the CBCs keep getting their contracts – typically worth tens of millions of dollars per county – renewed by the state. … The CBCs – routinely staffed by personnel who are not licensed social workers, certified master social workers or licensed clinical social workers and are packed into cubical-farm office spaces – subcontract out much of the case management work to other agencies. The case management workers who actually check on the children’s welfare are not licensed clinic social workers either and have demanding caseloads hovering around 20-30 families, depending on the county. …


Family: Teen suicides evidence of failure of privatized foster care
Source: John Pacenti, Palm Beach Post, March 13, 2017

A lawyer representing the biological family of a teenager in foster care who broadcast her suicide on Facebook live says the tragic death is just the latest evidence that the state’s move to privatize foster care is not working. WLRN-FM reports the death of 14-year-old Naika Venant in January was the second teen suicide in a Miami Gardens foster care home overseen by the agency Our Kids in the two months. In December, 16-year-old Lauryn Martin hanged herself with a scarf in her room at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter on Plantation Key. Howard Talenfeld, a lawyer representing Naika Venant’s biological family, said it is the Department of Children and Families that gives the job to a contractor like Our Kids. … Talenfeld says it’s been 40 days since his firm requested relevant records from DCF and Our Kids, and it hasn’t gotten anything yet. …

Florida’s child-protection system needs major overhaul, report says
Source: Orlando Sentinel, February 3, 2015

A new report from the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, created last year as part of a wide-ranging reform law, calls for state leaders to go well beyond their previous efforts to fix the state’s troubled child-protection system. The 50-page report, submitted Friday to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, focused on “the need for a statewide, system-wide child welfare strategic plan” that pulls together the disparate parts of Florida’s response to the abuse and neglect of children. ….. Following a scathing review by the non-profit Casey Family Programs of 40 child deaths in Florida, lawmakers last year sought to fix problems that have repeatedly occurred in the state’s programs to protect children from abuse and neglect. Lawmakers concluded, in part, that Florida needed its own research arm to better advise the Department of Children and Families and privatized community-based care organizations that provide adoption, foster care and case-management services. As part of a major reform bill, the Legislature established the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University’s College of Social Work. In the new report, Patricia Babcock, the institute’s interim director, and Nicholas Mazza, dean of the university’s College of Social Work, wrote that “Florida’s child welfare system is unique in that its case management services have been privatized.” ….

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Lawmakers Hear Testimony Concerning Privatizing DDS Care

Source: Todd Piro, NBC Connecticut, March 8, 2017

Beverly Laporte of East Hartford worries about what will happen to her son Robbie if he is moved from his group home in South Windsor to private care. Laporte joined others at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday, testifying in front of the Public Health Committee against privatizing Department of Developmental Services care for their relatives. … At issue, of course, is money. Non-profit providers, through The Alliance, which provides a voice for community non-profits, say they can provide the highest quality of care at a fraction of the cost, saving the cash-strapped state $150 million dollars per year in residential care alone. … Some like Laporte are not convinced, arguing that because many private employees in the caregiving field are paid less than their public counterparts, there is a high turnover rate that hurts continuity of care. … Wednesday’s testimony was just one part of the larger battle that will be going on throughout the session.


Connecticut unions say state needs to negotiate privatization
Source: Christine Stuart, New Haven Register, October 13, 2016

Two state unions representing workers at the Department of Developmental Services filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the state can’t move forward with privatizing group homes without negotiating first with the unions. The Connecticut State Employees Association, SEIU Local 2011 and New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199 sought an injunction in Hartford Superior Court to stop the privatization from moving forward until negotiations are completed. Department of Development Services Commission Morna Murray announced in August that the state was moving forward with a plan to convert 30 group homes to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017. The agency also closed two regional centers in Meriden and Stratford. The plan is expected to save the agency $42 million in 2017 and $70 million in 2018. …

State employee unions suing to block group home privatization
Source: Arielle Levin Becker and Keith Phaneuf, CT Mirror, October 13, 2016

State employee unions plan to ask a judge to block the privatization of group homes for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, saying the layoffs caused by those changes violate Connecticut law and will eventually be blocked by the state labor board. If that happens, the unions say in their request for an injunction, clients would have their lives upended twice – first by having to go through a change in staff in state-run group homes where they have developed relationships with caregivers, and then again if the labor board orders the laid-off state employees to be reinstated. … The unions, CSEA-SEIU Local 2001 and SEIU 1199, New England, represent nearly 500 workers who are expected to be laid off because of the Department of Developmental Services’ plans to privatize the services they provide. The workers include staff at state-run group homes and institutions, and those who provide job support, education, physical and speech therapy, health care and other services to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Both unions filed a complaint with the state Board of Labor Relations earlier this week, alleging that DDS broke the law by failing to bargain with them over the decision to outsource the work. … The Malloy administration plans to privatize 40 group homes, as well as services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities – moves aimed at saving the state nearly $70 million per year by next fiscal year. Overall, the plan is expected to eliminate 605 state jobs. In an August memo detailing the plans, budget director Benjamin Barnes wrote that the state was requesting that the private providers give hiring preferences, when possible, to state employees who lose their jobs because of the changes. …

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Malloy budget would close Danbury mental health service

Source: Rob Ryser, News Times, March 2, 2017

A state-run office that helps 300 people from greater Danbury manage mental health and addiction afflictions would be closed as a cost-saving measure under the governor’s proposed budget for 2017-2018. The Danbury branch of the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network would be privatized under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget plan, saving a projected $1 million. The 39 workers at its Triangle Street location would be transferred to other offices. The proposal means that the region’s most vulnerable population would instead get needed services from charities and private-sector providers. … Malloy’s office responded that the state plans to invest $3.2 million of the Danbury network’s $4.2 million budget in private-sector services to ensure a successful transition. … Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, heard concerns from case managers that people served by the office would lose important state resources if the proposal is adopted by the state legislature. … The governor has also proposed privatizing a state mental health network in Torrington. …

Paying for success

Source: Jason Axelrod, American City and County, February 6, 2017

Several local and state governments are pioneering a new investment model to finance projects in their areas that uses success as a payment benchmark. Social impact bonds (SIBs) — also known as pay-for-success models — involve public-private partnerships (P3s) in which private entities invest in public projects that are overseen by governments, organized by nonprofit intermediaries, executed by service providers and are ultimately evaluated by independent entities. Such projects generally tackle social issues like homelessness or family welfare, and they aim to reduce government dollars spent on existing measures. Unlike a municipal bond, an SIB has no fixed rate of return for investors. An SIB’s ROI yield depends entirely on the project’s success, based on outcomes defined in the SIB contract. At pre-defined points in the project’s execution, a study of the program’s effectiveness will be carried out, and the government will accordingly pay funders pre-defined amounts based on how certain benchmarks are met. …

… The Denver Social Impact Bond program provides up to five years of supportive housing and Assertive Community Treatment for 250 homeless repeat offenders who cost taxpayers over $7 million per year in legal and health care-related expenses, city documents show. … In 2013, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) sought and obtained technical assistance from the Harvard Kennedy Government Improvement Lab in constructing and executing an SIB project to address its greatest unmet service need at the time— parent and caregiver substance use, according to DCF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Duryea. … In 2015, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, became the first U.S. county to institute an SIB-funded program with a similar mission to Connecticut’s SIB-funded project. The county’s Partnering for Family Success Program seeks to reduce the amount of days children spend in foster care, which was one of the more expensive items in the county’s budget. …

Privatization could save some money at API, not at youth centers

Source: Andrew Kitchenman, APRN, February 6, 2017
Consultants who studied the privatization for the state found that management of the institute, as well as operating the state’s juvenile justice detention centers, are better done by the state.  Coy Jones is the senior consultant for Public Consulting Group and said savings depend on how many patients are at the psychiatric institute. … The state also couldn’t find savings in privatizing pharmacy services at Pioneer Homes.  The state studied privatizing services as a result of a new law that overhauled Medicaid in Alaska. The Senate Health and Social Services Committee held a hearing on the studies Monday.


Studies recommend against privatizing psychiatric hospital or juvenile jails
Source: Michelle Theriault Boots, Alaska Dispatch News, February 1, 2017

Alaska would not benefit by using contractors to run its juvenile jails or the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, according to a pair of Legislature-ordered reports on privatization written by consultants. The feasibility studies were mandated as part of a health care bill passed by the Alaska Legislature in 2016. With Alaska facing a $3.2 billion budget crisis, the privatization studies were supposed to examine whether the state could hand over management of its only psychiatric hospital and its short-term juvenile jails to private groups and save money without threatening the quality of services. The answer for juvenile jails was an unqualified “no.” Rather than corporate prison companies like Geo Group, which the Department of Corrections uses to run halfway houses around the state, the state seemed to be looking for a different approach for running detention centers where arrested teenagers are held short-term. … Alaska’s Department of Corrections already leans on the world’s largest private prison company, Geo Group, to manage all but one of its halfway houses.

… For the overburdened Alaska Psychiatric Institute, privatization might end up being more expensive than state control, the study found. Handing over management of the psychiatric hospital to a private company or a nonprofit would cost more “even after significant staff reductions,” according to a letter on the study’s findings sent by Davidson to legislators. It would be better, the evaluators found, if the state continued to manage the hospital that is supposed to serve as Alaska’s safety net for mentally ill people.

Should Alaska Psychiatric Institute be privatized?
Source: Annie Zak, Alaska Dispatch News, August 26, 2016

Members of the mental health community and general public had a chance on Thursday to voice concerns and ask questions about the possibility of the state-run Alaska Psychiatric Institute becoming a private entity. A Boston-based company called Public Consulting Group Inc., is conducting a feasibility study to identify and analyze potential options for how to best manage API. … The Legislature passed a broad health care bill this year that mandates the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, in partnership with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, look at whether a private contractor for API works for the state. The feasibility study will examine several options for what to do with the facility, including keeping it under state ownership and contracting out for some operations; forming a public corporation to operate API; keep it under state ownership but look for new sources of revenue; and contracting with a nonprofit or for-profit third party to take over management and operations. … A private operator of API would be subject to a state oversight committee, according to the DHSS. … The plan is to have the API feasibility study ready for the Legislature to review in January. …

Psychiatric hospital privatization to be discussed
Source: The News Miner, August 22, 2016

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority are hosting a roundtable discussions about privatizing the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska’s only public psychiatric hospital. A study about privatizing the hospital is a mandate of Senate Bill 74, signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker earlier this year. The Public Consulting Group, Inc., won the contract for the feasibility study on June 11 to identify and analyze potential options for privatizing the hospital. …

Alaska selects winning bids for privatization studies
Source: Zack Hale, State of Reform, July 19, 2016

Alaska’s sweeping Medicaid reform bill, signed into law last month by Gov. Bill Walker, included provisions that require the state to hire outside contractors to perform feasibility studies for privatizing some parts of the state’s health care system. Specifically, the law mandates an analysis of the privatization of certain pharmacy services, juvenile facilities, and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. So far the state has received two winning bids from firms that will perform feasibility analyses for the privatization of juvenile facilities and the state’s only public psychiatric hospital. … Carter Goble Associates, LLC, (CGA) submitted the winning bid to examine the feasibility of privatizing the programs offered in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s short-term secure detention facilities for youthful offenders. CGA’s winning proposal can be read here. … Public Consulting Group, Inc. (PCG) submitted the winning bid to conduct a feasibility analysis for privatizing certain aspects of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, which the proposal notes “serves as the sole safety net for the entire state.” PCG’s winning proposal can be read here. …

Alaska looks into privatizing some health and juvenile justice services
Source: Annie Zak, Alaska Dispatch News, May 27, 2016

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday put out requests for proposals for studies that would examine privatization of services at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, four Division of Juvenile Justice facilities across the state, and the pharmacy program at Alaska Pioneer Homes. … For API, some of the options include contracting a for-profit or nonprofit entity to take over management and operations; forming a public corporation to operate the hospital; keep it under state ownership and look for new revenue streams; or keep it under state ownership and contract out for certain services. … The state is also looking at potential options to privatize four short-term juvenile detention facilities in Nome, Ketchikan, Kenai and Palmer. The state is asking whoever performs the feasibility study also analyze the possibility of converting one or more of the facilities to offer nonsecure residential mental health and/or substance abuse treatment services. … Alaska Pioneer Homes, which provide assisted living care and pharmaceutical services to people 65 and older, is a state-run program that is “serving a greater proportion of high acuity residents than in the past, as prospective residents have been staying in their own homes as long as possible,” the RFP said. … The state wants an outside contractor to look at the costs and income of the current pharmacy program, as well as the needs of the program (like pharmacist consultations, or managing medication), to find out what the best option is to privatize it.

DHHS commissioner says privatized welfare-to-work program worth extra costs

Source: Paul Merrill, WMTW News 8 Portland, January 19, 2017

A new privatized welfare-to-work program will be worth the extra millions of dollars in costs, according to Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. The current program, called Aspire, costs about $10 million a year. The state has signed a contract with the company Fedcap that could be worth as much as $62 million over the next four years, a 55 percent increase over Aspire. … The company will open 16 centers across Maine in the coming weeks to help people transition from welfare to work. Collins said he believes his company can do a better job than state-run programs. … Mayhew said the Fedcap contract is incentive-based to make sure Maine gets its money’s worth. Christine Hastedt, of Maine Equal Justice Partners, said LePage administration policies have pushed thousands of people off state welfare, but said she is optimistic about the public-to-private transition. … Hastedt hopes Fedcap will be able to successfully deal with Mainers who have serious mental and physical barriers to employment. … Collins said his workers have yet to encounter a situation they can’t handle. … Mayhew said former Aspire program workers transitioned to other jobs within the DHHS. Fedcap hired 10 Aspire workers, and a handful left state government, Mayhew said.

‘Donald Trump Before Donald Trump Became Popular’ Wants To Privatize Maine’s Welfare
Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, November 3, 2016

LePage sees the resemblance. He’s called himself ‘’Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” and “Baby Donald.” But his harshest trait may be his scorn for society’s most vulnerable. LePage wants to privatize one of Maine’s welfare programs by handing it over to a nonprofit, Fedcap, which has faced a dozen lawsuits since 2013 alleging workplace discrimination and wage, disability, and personal injury disputes. The program helps the nearly 5,000 Maine families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) find jobs and other community resources, and has the second highest work participation rate in the country. In the Public Interest’s latest report, How privatization increases inequality, describes how, in recent years, a number of states have outsourced important functions related to assisting families at or below the poverty line. Too often, the impact has been tragic. … LePage’s love for privatization runs deep. He’s received campaign money from the country’s largest private prison company; created privately run online and charter schools; put the state’s wholesale liquor business in private hands; proposed a privately run mental health hospital; outsourced the operation of a major bridge; and privatized a program that provides transportation to medical appointments. …


Editorial: If privatization is so great, why won’t the LePage administration share information?
Source: Bangor Daily News, October 31, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has given little explanation as to why it has changed longstanding contracts and outsourced government services. The administration has touted and ramped up competitive procurement but has not made it easy for the public to see which private organizations won state contracts and why. The administration’s decisions affect state services that thousands of Maine residents rely on and have altered the way millions of taxpayer dollars are spent. If LePage is confident that his contract awards are improving the state of Maine, he has no reason to shield them. … More than a year later, the LePage’s administration is apparently still in the process of creating the rules needed to implement the new law but is not saying when that work will be completed. Whether it’s refusing to talk to media, limiting the amount of information his administration releases to legislators or equating FOAA requests to a form of “ internal terrorism,” LePage has routinely dismissed the public’s right-to-know since taking office in 2011. … If the administration today were as transparent as LePage promised the state would be when he ran for office in 2010, the public would already have online access to all contract decisions. The public would be able to see how the administration is spending its tax dollars. Without public oversight of contract awards, there’s a higher risk of government officials awarding contracts for personal gain. Such actions are responsible for billions in lost public U.S. dollars each year. There is no evidence LePage or anyone from his administration has engaged in such unethical practices, but the public has a constitutional right to make sure. But, in 2013, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ranked LePage as the second worst governor in the nation in terms of transparency, cronyism, pressuring public officials and mismanagement. The lack of transparency and accountability has only worsened since then. …

Under LePage administration, state work being funneled to private sector
Source: Scott Thistle, Portland Press Herald, October 25, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has increasingly moved to have private companies and nonprofits do the work of state government, from dispensing welfare benefits and providing mental health programs to running prisons and operating a drawbridge. But LePage is hardly alone in his quest to privatize some of the functions of state government. In the past decade, governors around the country, Republicans and Democrats alike, have looked to the private sector for ways to save taxpayer money or improve the delivery of services without increasing costs. … What’s less clear is how well privatization works. The record is mixed, with some public-to-private transitions moving smoothly and efficiently, while others break down, leading to more spending on services rather than less. … In Maine, it’s difficult to track whether privatization is increasing, said David Heidrich, communications director for the Department of Administration and Financial Services, which administers most of the state’s contracts. The LePage administration announced last month that it had selected a private company to operate the state’s ASPIRE program, under a $62 million contract that could eliminate 50 jobs in the Department of Health and Human Services. ASPIRE finds jobs for people who receive financial assistance through the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The ASPIRE contract was the latest of several privatization moves that LePage has made since he took office in 2011. The administration also has created privately run virtual and charter schools; put the state’s wholesale liquor business in private hands to generate money to pay off hospital debt; proposed a privately run mental health hospital to handle forensic patients currently in Riverview Psychiatric Center; outsourced the operation of Casco Bay Bridge to a Florida company; and hired private vendors to manage the MaineCare program that provides transportation to medical appointments. …

Editorial: LePage ensures that sound policy won’t get in the way of welfare privatization agenda
Source: Bangor Daily News, September 16, 2016

We hope Maine arrives at an arrangement with Fedcap that results in a program that promotes not only efficiency in administration but also provides the appropriate kind of help so low-income Mainers receiving assistance can escape poverty. But we have doubts on both counts. When the LePage administration announced its ASPIRE privatization plans last winter, it did so without a convincing rationale. The administration never made it clear what a contractor would do more effectively or more efficiently than the state could by keeping the program in house. … For a program that should be about helping people escape poverty, Fedcap’s job training and placement program, as outlined in its bid proposal, is remarkably light on the intervention that can make the most consequential difference in someone’s life and help her escape the seasonal, low-wage economy: education. The most common vocational training Fedcap outlines lasts six to 12 weeks, and the longest educational pursuit the proposal appears to allow lasts up to a year — not enough time for an assistance recipient to attain a degree. … On the efficiency side of the ledger, we have difficulty seeing how a contractor’s plan to rent 16 new offices instead of use existing state offices in all of the same cities and hire 140 employees to replace 81 state positions represents an optimal use of taxpayer dollars. It would, however, continue a LePage administration pattern of not allowing sound policy to get in the way of its ideologically driven plans for Maine’s assistance programs. …

Maine DHHS says outsourcing will provide more services to ASPIRE
Source: Don Carrigan, WCSH, September 14, 2016

The state Department of Health and Human Services says hiring a private contractor to take over part of a major welfare program will improve and expand the services to thousands of people. Maine DHHS is negotiating the final details of a contract for a non-profit group from New York to manage part of the ASPIRE program. DHHS intends to contract with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services for case management of the roughly three thousand people on ASPIRE, which is part of the larger program called TANF. … Advocates for the poor, including Chris Hastedt of Maine Equal Justice Partners, have raised concerns about the outsourcing plan. Hastedt says she is worried that some essential services may be neglected because of a sole focus on having people find jobs. Mary Mayhew insists the contract with Fedcap will provide more services than DHHS says it currently can. It will also need more money. DHHS officials say the state spends about $10 million per year on those case management services, with the work done by department staff. The bid from Fedcap is for more than $62 million over four years.  The Maine State Employees Association, the largest state worker union, says 51 DHHS employees stand to lose their jobs when the state outsources the case management services. …

Contractor says it plans to hire 140 Mainers to staff welfare-to-work program
Source: Kevin Miller, Central, September 13, 2016

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a nearly $63 million contract with a New York nonprofit, Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, to operate the ASPIRE employment assistance program, which has repeatedly fallen short of meeting federal benchmarks. Now operated by DHHS, the program helps low-income individuals connect with job training, employers or education in order to transition them off the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. … But in its contract bid submitted to the state, Fedcap said its mission “is consistent with ASPIRE’s goal of gainful employment and work participation” and that the agency has helped place more than 14,000 TANF or other individuals in jobs since 2013. The organization stated that it plans to hire 140 Maine residents to work as Fedcap staff in 16 field offices. But Ramona Welton, president of the Maine State Employees Association SEIU Local 1989, estimated that 51 workers now handling the ASPIRE program could lose their jobs. Welton said she does not believe the contract being negotiated between DHHS and Fedcap includes any language allowing current employees to transfer their jobs to the nonprofit. …

LePage welfare privatization bid puts 51 state jobs on chopping block
Source: Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News, September 12, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage’s bid to privatize a work training program for welfare recipients is moving forward with up to 51 state jobs to be cut by the end of this year. LePage and his administration have been discussing privatizing the state’s ASPIRE program for months and are nearing approval of a $62.5 million contract with New York City-based Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, according to a report over the weekend by The Associated Press. … Ramona Welton, president of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989, which represents the majority of state workers, said Monday that 51 state jobs are on the line out of 81 positions in the ASPIRE program. The remaining 30 positions are unfilled because of retirements and resignations and have been left empty for weeks or months. … Neither the Department of Health and Human Services nor officials in the governor’s office responded to questions from the Bangor Daily News on Monday. DHHS announced the pending changes in January, stating in a news release that the ASPIRE program would be privatized and streamlined through the use of technology, innovation and collaboration with already established business and community partners. If the contract is signed, Fedcap would likely subcontract with nonprofits and community organizations to provide ASPIRE benefits. Currently, those benefits are offered in DHHS service centers, where ASPIRE employees are spread across Maine. ..

Gov. LePage to ‘privatize’ Maine’s $62.5M welfare program
Source: Marina Villaneuve, Associated Press, September 10, 2016

Republican Gov. Paul LePage wants to turn over the administration of Maine’s $62.5 million welfare program to a New York City-based nonprofit that’s faced a dozen state and federal lawsuits since 2013. Fedcap Rehabilitation Services acknowledges its recent litigation in its bid proposal to Maine officials while also describing its accomplishments. Since 2013, it’s paid out at least $403,000 in five settlements, the organization says. Court documents show the lawsuits include allegations of workplace discrimination and wage, disability and personal injury disputes. … Chris Hastedt of Maine Equal Justice Partners, a legal aid service, obtained a copy of the bid proposal through a public records request and expressed general concerns with turning over the federal-state program to the nonprofit. She says a contract with Fedcap could mean Maine’s welfare program will see higher administrative costs and diminished quality. … In its bid proposal, Fedcap says it’s secured more than 14,300 job placements for welfare recipients over the last three years, a record it says exceeds that of similar groups. Fedcap has a “very strong track record serving people with multiple barriers,” including the homeless, the organization says, and the Maine program will be run by a former Maine program leader, Christinei McKenzie. Fedcap says McKenzie will focus on creating a path out of poverty through work and job retention. … The governor’s efforts to reel in Maine’s cash assistance program fueled his 2014 re-election and gained praise from the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute. LePage has tightened welfare rolls, combatted fraud and redirected flexible federal block grants to elderly Mainers instead of “able-bodied young adults.” In January, Bethany Hamm, director of the state Office of Family Independence, told employees the move to privatization comes from the state facing nearly $29 million in penalties for not meeting federal standards. …

Nonprofits: More privatization can save state $1.3 billion

Source: Susan Haigh, Associated Press, January 18, 2017

Nonprofit human services providers say they can help solve Connecticut’s budget problems by taking over more state-operated programs, an idea that appears to be gaining steam among some legislative Democrats as well as Republicans. The Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to shift developmental disability residential services and mental health and substance abuse treatment programs from the state to the private sector. The group says its plan would save $1.3 billion over three years. The proposal comes as Connecticut faces a projected $1.5 billion deficit in the fiscal year beginning July 1. Connecticut has a system where both state employees and private nonprofit providers deliver state services. While many Republicans have pushed to privatize those programs, more Democrats, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, support the idea.

Illinois Launches Pay-For-Success Initiative For Dually-Involved Youth

Source: Open Minds, January 3, 2017

On November 18, 2016, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced the launch of a four-year, pay-for-success pilot project for youth dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The goal is to reduce or prevent time in institutional care, discourage repeat criminal behavior, and foster successful transitions to adulthood. Outcomes of the treatment group will be compared to a control group. To launch this project, DCFS contracted with Conscience Community Network LLC (CCN), a network of six Illinois non-profit provider organizations to deliver intensive care coordination and timely access to . . .