Welfare Watch - October 21, 2009 - ORCC Increases Sanctions on Residential Agencies
Today's Athens Banner Herald read, "State cracks down on group homes, Human Services Department releases figures." The article is a report of the Department of Human Services Board Meeting yesterday. Keith Bostick reported to the Board of DHS concerning the activities of his department since he has been the director of the Office of Residential Child Care, the State Office for licensing out of home agencies in Georgia. Since 2006 the number of inspections and adverse actions have increased significantly. They have steadily grown from 6 to 69 last year. The office is on track for a similar number this year.
Commissioner B.J. Walker asked Keith what has changed since 2006? Keith Bostick reported that he was hired in 2006. He quickly added that more staff was hired in 2007. He said that the pull out of Medicaid funding for many of the treatment services has placed a significant burden on agencies to assure appropriateness of care, adequate supervision and doing a proper assessment. Agencies often get into trouble because they are tasked with caring for children that they are not appropriate for their facilities. Inadequate supervision, assessment and facility preparedness are among the top citations against agencies.
Commission B.J. Walker told the Board that licensing only represents the minimum standards. The State also has additional contract standards that it requires of its providers. Her gold standard is, "Would I place my own child there?" If the answer is not in the affirmative, the State will not place children there. Providers of both foster care services and group home services had long advocated for strong licensing standards and program standards. Accreditation of programs standards are embraced by many agencies. This is in addition to the oversight provided by the ORCC.
Providers want licensing that is fair, objective, predictive and genuinely protects children.
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