Action Steps for Government to End the Crisis in Children and Youth Services
Representing Pennsylvania's private providers who deliver 80% of PA's services for abused, neglected and delinquent children and youth, YSAP calls on government to take essential action steps to end the crisis threatening services for the state's most vulnerable young people.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld by unanimous decision in 2013 the Commonwealth Court panel* that declared illegal the cumbersome rate-setting process implemented by the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF). Established without legislative approval, the process disrupted normal contracting processes between counties and private agencies and wreaked financial havoc, in some cases forcing providers out of business.* This action step was accomplished on April 24, 2013. See “PA Supreme Court decision terminates illegal state fiscal process.”
The Pennsylvania General Assembly should approve legislation to amend Act 30 which include, but are not limited to, the following provisions:
- “Contracted rates for purchased services shall cover the cost incurred in delivery of such services…” After years of miniscule or zero percent rate increases, private agencies are now being forced to deliver services at rates that are below the actual cost of care, a circumstance that is impossible to sustain.
- “Purchase-of-service contracts shall include contract extension language to provide for continuation of service provisions and related payments at the last contracted rate until a new contract agreement is signed. The new rate is to be retroactive…” Although private agencies have made every effort to continue their services to children and youth, contract delays and an unwillingness on the part of some counties to honor new rates during the months of delay, have compounded the financial duress for private providers.
Governor Wolf and his Secretary of Public Welfare should insist that:
- OCYF involve private providers in addressing federal demands for a better accounting system for federal Title-IVE residential funds. Thanks to DPW’s mismanagement of federal funding, Pennsylvania may have to repay many millions of dollars. By engaging private providers in finding a common-sense solution, rather than continuing the inept rate-setting system implemented by the last OCYF deputy secretary, Pennsylvania may have a chance of negotiating a settlement that will resolve the current impasse.
- OCYF recognize the need for a full continuum of care, from community-based services to private residential programs that are less expensive than existing government-run facilities. OCYF needs to balance the merits of community-based services with the critical need, in some cases, for out-of-home placement and community safety.
- Legislators should support the recommendations coming from the Rate Methodology Task Force, which includes OCYF, county and private provider representatives.
The Wolf administration has a significant opportunity to restore the healthy partnership between government and private agencies that characterized Pennsylvania’s children and youth services in the past.