A new working outline for the state’s child-welfare and juvenile justice programs was released this morning. Department of Human Services director Kevin Concannon says it’s the culmination of four months of town-hall meetings that sought to redesign the programs under the direction of the governor and legislature. Public Strategies Group was brought in by the governor to spotlight budget-cutting targets, and the draft, which Concannon says is an outline and still under construction, includes bottom-line criteria like cutting paperwork and requiring any program to show certain outcomes. Concannon says a few goals are clear: He says there will be a public commitment to cut by 50 percent the amount of time required for paperwork, for state caseworkers as well as people who work in private organizations. The agency director says education is another priority. He says the kids are invariably poor, and ensuring a good education will help them as adults. Concannon says if they don’t get an education, it’s like giving them a ticket to adult dependency. The child welfare system will target certain “populations” within the families already being served.He says about five-percent of the children and families use up about 20-percent of the system’s resources so focusing on them may produce better results. Concannon says earlier this year budget-cutting lawmakers cut the child welfare system’s state funding by about 10-million dollars. Federal funds help make up the loss, and he plans to seek more.He hopes to attract more federal money since he says it’s unlikely state money will be in more ample supply the next couple years. The report, titled “Better Results for Kids in the 21st Century,” was presented as a first draft and the day was devoted to “breakout groups” to discuss the outline. Public comments can be filed at the agency’s website at www.dhs.state.ia.us.
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