DHS News August 2013
Eighteen of the largest providers of child welfare
out-of-home care are involved in the pilot year of a Children, Youth and
Families (CYF) contract process designed to not only achieve financial
efficiencies but improve outcomes for children.
Called Performance Based Contracting (PBC), the pilot program got
underway at the start of the state fiscal year, July 1.
During the pilot year, the 18 providers are being introduced
to PBC and tweaks to the process are being made by DHS as well. The process
will not “go live” until FY 2014-15.
A team composed of professionals from the DHS Office of Data
Analysis, Research, Evaluation (DARE), the Office of Administrative and
Information Management Services (AIMS), and CYF have been discussing PBC with
the providers for months, said Katy Collins, a DARE analyst who is on the
team. In June, the team met with the 18
providers individually to review the contract goals set for them, based on a
data analysis of the populations they serve.
Goals are drawn from information compiled in DHS’ Key Information and
Demographics System (KIDS) about placements. The information is refined by
the Chapin Hall social services research center at the University of Chicago
before goals are set.
The incentives for providers to meet the goals can be
financial and professional. Overall, the goal of PBC is to improve the outcomes
of children by decreasing length of stay in placement, increasing the use of
least restrictive care environments, and improving the likelihood that children
who return home, stay home. These goals,
if met, will help DHS to reduce costs by 30 percent within 5 years, a target
that is part of DHS’ participation in the federal Child Welfare
Demonstration Project (CWDP).
However, goals built into PBC are not solely geared toward
saving money. Finding what works best for children and supporting them is a
primary aim as the CWDP moves forward, and components of PBC fit that target.
When providers are able to meet a goal set for them and consequently reduce
costs, the savings can be recouped by the provider and used where it sees a
During the pilot year, DHS is committed to improving access
to and quality of aftercare services for children, with the goal of preventing
re-entries into care. Re-entry rates have been hovering around 26 percent of
cases, according to DHS data compiled for the years 2006-10. Part of the issue
behind re-entries has been inadequate aftercare. When it has been made
available, it often was completed by a provider other than the one that handled
the child’s placement.
Providers in the PBC pilot are pursuing aftercare programs
to assist with stable transitions by children to home. Aftercare offers an
example of where providers might recoup money and re-invest it. Some children
and families may be found not to need aftercare. The resulting savings could be
used by the provider for more staff, for example, or steered toward some area
of service the provider believes would benefit children.
That sort of innovation is among the goals of CWDP. Providers have recognized not only the need
for keeping abreast of changes in practice but also the necessity to watch
finances carefully in an era of constantly shrinking budgets, Katy said.
“Everyone wants to serve kids in the best
possible way,” she said.
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