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Joint Budget Committee (JBC) 2010 Highlights

Joint Budget Committee (JBC) 2010 Highlights
This information was provided to COCAF by Skip Barber, Executive Director of The Colorado Association of Family & Children's Agencies, Inc. (CAFCA).

Human Services

  • TANF caseload has grown from 8,733 in July of 2008 to 14,115 in August of 2010; an average growth of 2.5% per month. This is the reason less money is available for transfer to child welfare.
  • Colorado’s cash assistance grant of $462 per month is the lowest among the states in Federal Region VIII.
  • General Fund contributions to the Department of Human Services have been decreased by $43.2 million (5.1%) from SFY 2007-2008 through SFY 2010-2011 although the total appropriations have increased based primarily on federal funds increases.
  • Since the most recent economic downturn commenced in SYF 2007-2008, increases for caseload growth has been limited, provider rates have been reduced, beds in the state facilities have been closed, the county match has been increased for out-of-home placements (from 14.6% two years ago to 18.0 % today), and staff compensation has been restricted. This is why the counties have to manage their caseloads so aggressively.
  • This year the Division of Child Welfare’s budget request reflects a decrease of $1.5 million (0.4%) in total funding but an increase of $5.8 million (2.9%) General Fund contribution due to the loss of federal funds. If the federal funds are not backfilled the General Assembly could make further cuts to the county allocations in child welfare. This was acknowledged as something that would create havoc since county allocations have already been reduced $10.9 million (2.8%) since SFY 2008-2009. If you adjusted for inflation, the decline in the child welfare block allocation would actually be 9.5%.
    • During this period referrals have increased 11.9% and assessments have increased 15.9%.
    • During this period open involvements have declined 4.5%, new involvements have declined 21.3%, and out-of-home placements have fallen 21.5%. So while they are receiving more reports and doing more investigations, fewer cases are being opened and fewer clients are receiving services.
    • The number of children in care in Colorado per 1,000 children in the population is 5.4 and this places Colorado in the middle of the pack compared to other states according to the Casey Family Foundation.
  • The major unaddressed CFSR issue for the state is the percent of children who re-enter foster care in less than 12 months.
  • The Colorado Population in Need Study 2009 found that amongst children and adolescents living at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, 49,364 had a serious emotional disturbance in SFY 2006-2007. Among adults, 89,803 had a serious mental illness, 65,990 had a substance abuse disorder, and 13,958 had a co-occurring serious mental health and substance use disorder. Of these populations, 42% sought services with the highest penetration rate being children and adolescents at 62.5%.
  • State operated facilities continue to be a hot topic and there was a whole lot of debate on this issue at JBC meetings.
  • Parole was a hotly debated topic: Recommendations for elimination of mandatory parole in favor of needs based and limiting the authority of the Juvenile Parole Boards was discussed.
    • The issue of whether parole decreases recidivism was presented as being unclear, citing several recent national studies and therefore the possible elimination of this service was suggested.
    • Even after adjusting for inflation, the state is now spending more than twice as much per youth on parole than it did in SFY 2001-2002.
  • In SFY 2009-2010 DYC served an average of 1,171 committed youth per day with 43% in state operated facilities, 42% in Ridgeview and 16% in other private facilities.
    • The average length of placement was 18.9 months as most youth (99%) received the maximum sentence of 2 years. One cost saving initiative suggested was to reduce maximum sentences to 18 months.
    • The average age of committed population is 16.8 years of age and 85% are male.
    • 443 youth were on parole on any given day.
    • Secure detention placements have fallen due to the dramatic decline in arrest rates and now stand at 6.7 per 1,000 youth (the lowest rate since measurement of this began). The detention facilities never exceeded their 479 cap during the past year and averaged only 407 filled beds per day.

Mental Health

  • Medicaid services for foster care youth under capitation have been steadily declining and the JBC would like to know why.
  • The state continues to defend the need for the adolescent services at the State Hospital in Pueblo and the TRCCF (Mountain Star) on the Fort Logan grounds in spite of continued marginal utilization although it is acknowledged that similar services might be provided in the community. While the closure would save approximately $600,000, the JBC only recommends additional discussions regarding this unit at this time.
  • Expenditures have grown 35.9% since FY 2007-2008 and yet the General Fund contribution has been decreased by 8.3% ($7.9 million) due to the increase in federal contributions.
  • Community Provider rates for Division of Behavioral Health providers have risen only 2% during the same period.
  • In the last 10 years, the State’s two mental health institutes have decreased from 734 beds to 568 beds, and of these 310 beds are dedicated to the forensic units in Pueblo. Average cost per beds for the institutes is $265,587 per year ($727.64 per day).
  • The cost for the Department of corrections increases $19.28 per day when an inmate has a mental illness.
  • Colorado is 40th in the nation in the number of public psychiatric beds per capita.

Budget Update
On Monday December 20, 2010, the budget reports shows slow economic growth and no new negative developments. The analyst was consistent with the September quarterly report. The only new news was that student growth in K-12 education is anticipated to be 0.9% in SFY 2011-2012 (an increase of 7,003 students). Because property tax assessments are falling (estimated at a 6.9% reduction in value this year) there will be a $140 million shortfall in education revenue that the state will be asked to backfill.