Grants and contracts, effective July 2019, improves Kansas foster care services
TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel is pleased to announce the new child welfare grants and contract Request for Proposals (RFPs). DCF posted the RFP’s today, May 31, and they include substantial changes from the current child welfare contracts. DCF developed the improved child welfare grants and contract to address known issues within the Kansas foster care system after receiving input from the public, legislators and stakeholders.
The new child welfare grants improve accountability, oversight, fiscal responsibility, quality services, conflicts of interest, are client-centered, focused on needs-based services, competition and innovation. In addition, foster homes, kin, children and families will be more empowered. The grants also emphasize permanency in child-time, preferably with family, if safely possible. With these grants, Secretary Meier-Hummel is also committed to safely reducing the number of children in out-of-home care.
“By listening to Kansans, and by taking a careful look at our systems, we created grants and contracts that we truly believe will have a positive impact on the children and families in this state,” Secretary Meier-Hummel said. “Overall, this is a dramatic change, creating more accountability and oversight. We will be controlling more of the process, monitoring and expecting results for the families we serve.”
Currently, DCF offers four family preservation and four foster care contracts, to two providers statewide. Moving forward, DCF will offer two grants—Family Preservation and Foster Care. Potential providers can bid for both grants, but will only be awarded one grant in each DCF Region. This will eliminate current perceived conflicts of interest. Additionally, a statewide Placement Matching System contract will be released soon. Below are some of the changes included in the RFP’s:
- Family Preservation
- A new program focused on keeping children with their families, when safely possible, and safely reducing the number of children coming into out-of-home care.
- Previously a one-size-fits-all program will now be tailored to the needs of each family
- The state determines when providers are in the home working with families, and the intensity of services
- Rates will differ based on the intensity of services needed, and payments will not be made to providers until milestones with the family are met (previously payments were made regardless of progress made)
- Foster Care
- Services will be provided to the entire family, not just the child(ren)
- Grantees will be required to use the Placement Management System.
- New grant structure will contain costs, allowing negotiation of changes only if there is a substantial change in caseloads.
- Caseload sizes will not be allowed to exceed 25-30, per case manager, for foster care/reintegration/adoption cases, and 50, per case manager, for aftercare cases.
- Placement Matching System
- Currently, each provider has its own system, and the State does not readily have available data. This new contract will require every licensed foster home or residential bed, to be entered into a single statewide system
- DCF will monitor the system to ensure children’s placement needs are being met, and they are remaining in their home communities, when possible.
- The system will capture electronic records for the youth that are in the foster care system
The grants also include a long list of other substantial changes:
- Smaller foster care catchment areas, bringing more community providers to the table to serve Kansas children (previously four catchment areas, now eight)
- The new grant establishes an advisory board—consisting of youth in care, biological families, foster parents and providers—to provide feedback directly to Secretary Meier-Hummel
- DCF contracting directly with CPA’s
- DCF establishes rate settings for placements—this includes increased rate setting for relative and kin placements.
“These new grants and contracts are essential to enacting major reform in Kansas child welfare. We are building an infrastructure that puts the children and families of Kansas first, while still bringing private providers, innovation and competition to the table,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “These are our kids, they are Kansans, and they deserve the best care possible. Moving forward, they will receive quality, timely services.”
All of these improvements follow internal reviews of the agency, as well as a formal Request for Information (RFI) process, in which DCF gathered feedback from the public and stakeholders. Through the RFI process, we received 393 submissions, that will be available for review on the DCF Public website by 8 a.m., Friday, June 1.
“It was clear, based on the feedback and the work of the legislative Child Welfare System Task Force, a change in the structure and work in the child welfare contracts was needed,” Secretary Meier-Hummel said. “Quite simply, the public, stakeholders and legislators spoke, and we listened.”
“It has been my pleasure to be a part of the Child Welfare System Task Force. We have had purposeful, albeit difficult conversations, that are essential to cause statewide, systematic changes and break down barriers for Kansas children and youth,” said Senator Barbara Bollier. “It is obvious that Secretary Meier-Hummel and her team have been listening to these conversations, and are taking action to address much-needed issues within the system.”
RFP submissions are due by Monday, Aug. 9. Presentations will begin in October, and the child welfare grants and Placement Management System contract will be awarded no later than December 2018. The new providers will begin serving Kansas children and families on July 1, 2019. You can find the Foster Care and Family Preservation RFP’s here.