- Budget Message
- Issues in Brief
- Investing in Education to Close the Achievement Gap
- Investing in Innovations & Infrastructure to Create Jobs, Expand Opportunity
- Expanding Access to Affordable, Quality Health Care
- Building Stronger, Safer Communities through Positive Youth Development & Youth Violence Prevention
- Raising Revenue for Critical Investments
- Transportation Reform
- Workforce Development and Community Colleges Reform
- Retiree Health Reform
- Investing in our Communities
- Public Housing Reform
- Pharmacy Reform
- Innovations to Improve Operations
- Access for Children, Youth, and Families
- Lowering Health Care Costs to Businesses
- Sheriff Funding Review
- Court Re-Alignment
- Accelerated Energy Program
- Improving Government Performance
- Budget Recommendations
- Local Aid to Cities and Towns
Access for Children, Youth, and Families
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FY 2014 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
The Commonwealth serves thousands of children and their families every year through Children, Youth and Family (CYF) Services. These services focus on some of the most vulnerable populations in the state – those who come to state agencies in need of support as a result of abandonment, child abuse or neglect, delinquency, mental illness, poverty, substance abuse, disability and other special needs. The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to improving services for this vulnerable population while achieving efficiencies and savings.
In FY 2014, the Patrick-Murray Administration will expand the network of Family Access Centers (FACs), a one-stop center that provide services targeted to the needs of families in their host community. In doing so, this budget reflects the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to providing integrated CYF services to improve family access to critical services. To better serve families and to improve outcomes for children and families, the administration is developing a system of care that is comprehensive, better integrated and coordinated across government and linked with community-based resources. Further efforts in CYF reforms position the Administration to implement the Children In Need of Services (CHINS) legislation signed by the Governor in August of 2012.
Key Opportunities for Improving Access to CYF Services
Currently, fragmented services at the community level have required individuals and families to navigate multiple agencies in order to identify and obtain services. The ability to access the right services at the right time is critical to supporting families in need. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), with its partners, seeks to transform Massachusetts’ fragmented CYF system into a strengths-based, family-centric model by better integrating services within communities so that families can identify access points when seeking information, support services, or other resources.
To enhance the “front door” to state services and thus improve families’ access to information and services available to them through the state and within their community, EOHHS and its partners will:
Community residents open the Brockton Family Access Center in 2011.
- Transform existing agency centers into Family Access Centers (FACs), one-stop centers targeted at the needs of the host communities that provide access to many EOHHS services; and
- Develop integrated web-based and telephone systems that will provide families 24/7 access to information and referral to community and state-based services.
Family Access Centers
The Administration is investing $1.28 M annually to expand the network of FACs statewide, improving family access and ensuring that there is no wrong door for any family in need. Long-term savings may be achieved through shared services, reducing duplication, and evaluating possible co-location for existing service centers. Each FAC operates programs reflecting the culture and needs of its community, but all have a core set of services, including connection to community and state services, educational programs, and peer support. Depending on the needs of the community, one state agency may have a greater presence (physically and virtually) at a given FAC than another.
FACs will serve as one door to services, facilitate the deferral of children and families from the court system, and improve service coordination between human services and schools. Where services are not available onsite, FACs provide managed referrals to appropriate service providers in the community. At FACs, families can apply for publicly funded services like Transitional Aid for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children’s Program (WIC), Fuel Assistance, and MassHealth; receive education and peer support; and be guided to other resources in the community that might be more appropriate to their particular circumstances. Additionally, FACs will be an interim hub for families to apply and update eligibility in their community while EOHHS develops internet application systems under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Strategically expanding FACs to communities across the state, beginning with Gateway cities, will ensure that all families have access to the services and supports available in their community. Initial priority FACs have been identified for enhancement or expansion:
- Expanding six FACs in Springfield, Worcester, Brockton, Fall River, and two in Boston to include a school liaison to make the vital connection between schools and community;
- Building a FAC in Holyoke; and,
- Expanding the FAC in Lawrence by developing a center in the school system.
These FACs will improve family access to information and resources, simplify families’ interactions with the system, and strengthen coordination across the education system and CYF services.
Integrated Web-based and Telephone Information System
Client communication by phone with EOHHS is also currently fragmented. Currently, clients must reach out to agencies one by one, each with its own contact numbers and referral lines. Therefore, integrated telephone access is a vital component of the Administration’s “No Wrong Door” policy and crucial to effectively serving a diverse population. The Patrick-Murray Administration has included a $250,000 investment in its FY 2014 budget to accommodate this web-telephony integration. This initial investment in a centralized information and referral line will establish the foundation for integrating phone lines, call centers and Interactive Voice Response solutions that exist within each agency.
Integrating the customer service telephone network build upon existing progress to date and will help to provide better customer service. Additionally, an integrated phone system will provide EOHHS with data on the types of services that families need, the location of the need, and the availability of the services, providing EOHHS with a mechanism to more effectively coordinate services across programs.
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