Office of Children's Services
foster care programs
pass federal eligibility review
Feds: "Remarkable results"
- just 1 technical error in 80 cases reviewed.
September 24, 2003
Wednesday - 1:15 am
About 40 Office of Children's Services (OCS) staff, assembled
last Thursday in the Juneau Office conference room and via teleconference,
greeted results of a recent federal review with applause. OCS
had just concluded a 4-day Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility
Review which focuses on whether a child meets statutory eligibility
requirements for foster care maintenance payments. "We read
80 cases and found one error, and these are wonderful, remarkable
results,"said Carol Overbeck, Foster Care Specialist with
the Administration for Children & Families in the US Dept.
of Health & Human Services. In the Title IV-E review protocols,
a state can have up to 8 cases fail to meet standards before
secondary reviews are required.
"These are very positive
results," Joel Gilbertson, H&SS Commissioner said. "We
are very pleased and I am extremely proud of OCS staff who worked
hard to prepare for this important and rigorous review."
Marcia Kennai, OCS Deputy Commissioner, said that several findings
pinpoint ways that OCS can increase federal payments for foster
care services that the State provides. "We have an ambitious
agenda to strengthen our role in Alaska's foster care system
and make things better for Alaska's children and foster families,"
she said. "But speaking for my staff and this entire Office,
we're going to take a moment to celebrate the good reviews and
the good news."
Other Title IV-E review
- The State is missing out on
some federal fund reimbursements due to legal delays. The reviewers
recommended continuing to work with the Courts and the Court
Improvement Project to benefit clients and to enable the state
to maximize federal reimbursement funds for those services.
- No cases failed in the review
because of financial eligibility requirements. In the recent
reorganization of OCS, certain eligibility staff members were
moved from Public Assistance to OCS, and that facilitates timely
handling of cases. Fine tuning case documentation helps one eligibility
worker pick up another worker's case, and keeps the case moving
- All 80 cases met the criminal
check and safety requirements. "None of Alaska's cases failed
in this area, and that is not typical in review of other states,"
One case failed because the facility did not meet the federal
requirement for full licensing, although the facility met State
- The IV-E review recommended
the State to consider more flexible licensing standards used
effectively by other states. Because of the shortage of foster
families in Alaska, the reviewers noted that licensing staff
felt some pressure to "overload" families with more
foster children. However, reviewers credited the licensing staff
for "holding the line and not overloading" a family.
- The reviewers noted positively
that the eligibility system had been restructured, taking a two-step
process to a one-step eligibility process. "You have a really
trained cadre of specialists here," Overbeck said. "For
these folks to have just gone through a reorganization, and to
be doing such a good job, is really remarkable." The review
also called OCS' eligibility manual "one of the best we
have seen. "We really think its tops," Overbeck said.
"This is a learning process
for all of us," Kennai said. "We continue to be a learning
organization, this is our vision, and we will continue to work
to secure all the funding we are eligible for." Kennai congratulated
and thanked all OCS staff who worked on the review.
"It is a top priority
of this administration to maximize federal funding for this Department
to offset state General Funds," Kennai said. "We welcome
the recommendations of this review that help us achieve that
Source of News Release:
Alaska Dept. of Health &
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