Human Services Committee considers reinstating DHS program flexibilities

The Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee held an informational hearing this week on a bill that would reinstate several program modifications for the Department of Human Services (DHS) to sustain safety net services as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Among the many flexibilities authorized during the governor’s declared peacetime emergency, a few were selected by DHS, counties, and service providers as most important to extend as we continue fighting this pandemic.

Waivers under consideration include allowing for increased remote procedures when there are Covid-19 safety risks, providing Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) payments when a facility needs to close a classroom due to Covid-19 exposures to ensure program stability for providers and families, and authorizing DHS to manage a temporary staffing pool to help secure workers to provide care for people in group homes, long-term care, and other settings. DHS’s authority to manage this critical staffing pool ended December 31, 2021, but facilities continue to struggle with severe staffing shortages that impair access to needed services. More discussion and action on the bill will take place at next week.  (SF 2876)