December 9, 2010

Federation raises more concerns about the child welfare services privatization pilot project

The Federation took its continued concerns about what was supposed to be a pilot project to privatize DSHS Child Welfare Services in one region to a legislative oversight committee Wednesday (Dec. 8).

The union has voiced alarm at recent moves by DSHS that appear to extend the pilot or parts of the pilot statewide. That violates the law creating the pilot, 2SHB 2106.

The union took those concerns to the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee at a pre-session hearing Wednesday.

Ursula Petters, a social worker supervisor in Bremerton and a member of Local 1181, and Jeanine Livingston, the union’s contract compliance director, ticked off a number of potential problems with the request for proposals for phase 1 of the project.

Workload is one of the concerns, they said.

“Having only one family group meeting every 90 days on out-of-home placement is not acceptable,” Petters told the panel. “Permanency must be the focus from Day 1. Family group meetings with the social worker present need to occur at least monthly. Yet, this presents a new workload issue.

Wasting money in a time of a $5.7 billion budget deficit is another big concern.

“We are deeply concerned that the amount of money allocated to implement the proposed system is grossly inadequate to do all that the request for proposals prescribes to the master contracts,” Petters said. “With transportation, visitation, placement, housing, drug and alcohol treatment, expanding in-home treatment and services and adding staff – the master contracts will burn through these budgets in very short order – or alternatively not provide services when they’re needed.”

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