With the fast-rising costs of Community Service Act (CSA) programs, Carroll County will fund a position to oversee CSA responsibilities in the county.
During the July 16 meeting of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, the board unanimously approved the move in an effort aimed at improving services and reducing the overall cost of the program.
The action stems from a letter written by Mike Jennings, Director of Social Services in Carroll County, to Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe. In the letter, Jennings notes that CSA expenditures for the county has doubled in five years, going from $1,020,018 in 2007 to over $2 million in 2012.
“Along with the ever increasing dollar amount, the work required to successfully manage and attend to the very detailed day-to-day business activities of CSA also has more than doubled,” Jennings wrote.
Jennings added that the Department of Social Services (DSS) has historically provided the personnel to perform the required work. Two years ago, he said it became apparent that a full-time person was required to keep up with the demands of the work. Jennings wrote that DSS took the initiative to give up one of its employees to the CSA, and Jacqueline Roberts began to serve as CSA Coordinator. But only 45 minutes to an hour each day of her time has been given to the work of Social Services, if that much, Jennings wrote.
Additionally, Jennings wrote that the department will begin using a new application platform this summer for processing applications for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and Heating/Cooling Assistance.
“It is my understanding that customers will be directed to computers in our lobby to make applications when at our front window, and will also be able to apply for any of these programs from any computer with internet access in any location,” Jennings wrote. “The Customer Portal was developed by the Virginia DSS to help address the current case load as well as the anticipated increase Virginia will see in applications for Medicaid due to federal Health Care Reform Legislation.”
Jennings wrote VDSS estimates 450,000 new Medicaid enrollees will be added to the state’s case load in 2014. He estimated that a minimum of 2,000 new Medicaid cases could be added to Carroll’s caseloads.
“There is a real potential for more than 2,000 as the local percentage of our population living under the Federal Poverty Level (17.6%) is greater than that for the State (11.1%) and the County’s unemployment rate of 8.1% exceeds the rate for Virginia (5.7%) according to the Workforce Investment Board’s March 2012 reports I received,” Jennings wrote. “With this said, I realize I must reclaim the DSS staff member that was taken for CSA, and this person will be needed immediately to work with the new application system. Please remember that all current staff members are working overcapacity and the new Customer Portal will not take away from the existing caseload, only help in bring(ing) on new applications.”
Jennings proposal was for the CSA Coordinator to continue to work under the supervision of the CSA Fiscal Agent and to continue to follow personnel policies and practices, with the position being funded by Carroll County.
“With the county being responsible for paying a matching percentage (approximately 30%) of such a large budget item as the CSA dollars spent, I feel it is appropriate for the county to make the financial investment in the person most responsible for the successful operation of the CSA work,” Jennings wrote. “This move should also give the county more administrative input and control of the CSA program.”
Jennings’ proposal also included a salary request of $32,625 for the position.
During the July 16 board meeting, Supervisor David Hutchins said he’s a member of the local CPMT team that’s worked on and encouraged the position. Hutchins said he was in favor of the position with some slight modifications.
“As it is currently written, the board of supervisors will fund that position. I believe it’s needed and will save the county some dollars,” Hutchins said. “I’d request the position contingent on a job description similar to what we have now with the Clerk of the Works (overseeing the Phase III School renovations), that administrative management be with the County Administrator and be split with the County Administrator and the Department of Social Services so there’d be oversight. Our objective is to provide the service to those who need it, but also to control expenditures of our funds.”
Supervisor Phil McCraw seconded the motion.
Board Chairman Sam Dickson said he is on the Department of Social Services Board and agrees that the position is needed. He said if the position doesn’t work out, the county could always get rid of it.
“Going back several boards, the expenditures for that whole area has been a concern,” Supervisor Bob Martin said. “I totally agree with David.”
The motion to approve the position then passed unanimously.