Inadequate State Reimbursement Impacts Number of Children and Families Served at Wittenmyer Youth Center
July 28, 2012 9:00am
For Immediate Release Saturday, July 28, 2012
Davenport, IA—Due to inadequate reimbursement from the state of Iowa, the Board of Directors at Family Resources has taken steps to resolve a projected budget deficit for the fiscal year that began on July 1 by reducing the number of children in 24-hour care programs, along with a corresponding reduction in staff. Thirty-five fewer children will be served each day by 24-hour care programs and the staff will be reduced by approximately 45 full-time direct care and support positions. In addition, an undetermined number of part-time positions will be reduced and benefit adjustments will take place for all staff.
When children are placed with Family Resources by the courts, the state reimburses the organization for the housing and services required for 24-hour care. The reimbursement received by Family Resources is up to $15 less per day per child than other agencies in Iowa receive for the same services. The reimbursement rate is around $40 less than the actual cost of caring for the child each day. Last year, the 24-hour programs served an average of 77 children each day, resulting in a significant revenue shortfall.
"It’s not a sustainable situation,” says Family Resources Board Chair Ginny Wilson-Peters. "Our organization has struggled with this discrepancy for years, and we’ve managed to support the programs through agency-wide cost savings, occasional hiring freezes and benefit reductions. The adjustments we’re making now are necessary to ensure that the organization remains strong enough to fulfill its mission.”
Children in the 24-hour program have a variety of behavioral or emotional health issues, often the result of past traumatic experiences such as physical or sexual abuse and neglect. They often act out in destructive ways to themselves, to property and to others. At Family Resources, they receive the care, treatment and education they need to move forward with their lives.
"We’re very concerned for the children,” says Family Resources President and CEO Cheryl Goodwin. "Some are from across the state of Iowa, but most of them are from the Quad Cities and Eastern Iowa. When we reduce our services, these children will need to be placed farther from their home community. It’s one more disruptive event in their lives. And if they are placed out of state, it will cost the state more.”
Between now and October 1, Family Resources will work with juvenile court services or the Department of Human Services to find the best placement for the children. Staff reductions will take place at the same time.
In the meantime, Family Resources has submitted a reimbursement proposal to the Iowa Department of Human Services for what it considers a fair and reasonable rate. The organization has not been successful in achieving a higher rate despite several attempts during the past few years.
Family Resources has a tradition that dates back 150 years. Last year, nearly 35,000 people were served by the organization’s services. Family Resources operates more than 30 programs that include:
· Child welfare and juvenile justice
· Mental and behavioral health services
· Victim services including two domestic violence shelters
· Sexual assault prevention and recovery programs
· Alternative education
"We will be here, as strong as ever, to serve the people who need us to be a safe place to turn,” says Cheryl Goodwin. "These reductions are a painful but necessary step to ensure that Family Resources continues to fulfill our vision of a community of healthy families.”
The organization employees around 360 full and part-time employees and offers services from in Eastern Iowa from Dubuque to Keokuk. Family Resources also has an office in Moline. For more about Family Resources go to www.famres.org.