The new director of Iowa’s welfare system supports the effort to restructure the Department of Human Services in order to save money, but Kevin Concannon says he hopes lawmakers don’t expect too much, too soon. Concannon says legislators believe there are ways to save money, but Concannon says he doesn’t know the magnitude of those savings yet. A Minnesota consulting firm’s recommending that more of the work done by the Department of Human Services be shifted to private sector firms — all in hopes of saving 20 million dollars over the next two years. Concannon says he’s “up for change” but it’s the pace that concerns him. Concannon’s been on the job for two weeks, and he says one of the first efficiencies he’d recommend is spending more money on helping kids when there’s a first sign of mental illness or behavior problems. Concannon says it’s more expensive to wait ’til the problem’s severe. Concannon was head of the human service agencies in Oregon and Maine, and he says one of the tricks he learned in those states was to find ways to draw in as much federal money as possible to support welfare efforts.
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