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Several CSA Studies Underway

Several efforts to examine and improve aspects of the Children’s Services Act (CSA) are currently underway, both as a result of General Assembly direction and State Executive Council action.

Private special education day placements: Language included in the 2017 Appropriations Act charged money committee staff with identifying ways to improve the management of quality and costs for private special education day placements funded through CSA. Staff reported to the Joint Committee on Health and Human Resources Oversight in November 2017 and requested more time to complete the study; VACo’s Immediate Past President Mary Biggs, who serves on the State Executive Council (SEC), provided testimony on behalf of VACo at this meeting. Money committee staff are continuing their work and are expected to make a report by the end of the year.

Language included in the 2018 Appropriations Act directed the Office of Children’s Services and the Department of Education to convene a workgroup of stakeholders to develop proposed outcome measures, such as assessment scores, return to public school, or attendance, to track students’ progress in private day placements. The workgroup, which includes a VACo representative, has met three times and is currently considering a set of possible metrics that would include graduation rates, assessment scores, attendance, return to public school, suspension and expulsion rates, and parental satisfaction. These indicators are expected to be further refined at a final meeting in early October and reported to the specified General Assembly committee chairs by November 1. In addition, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s study selection subcommittee gave preliminary approval on September 10 to a review of special education overall; a formal study resolution will be considered at a future meeting.

Mandatory uniform assessment instrument policy: State statute requires the use of a uniform assessment instrument to assess children’s eligibility for CSA funding, and SEC policy designates the Child and Adolescent Strengths and Needs Assessment (CANS) as the required assessment tool. Documentation of CANS administration in compliance with statute and policy is a component of state audits of local CSA offices. In an effort to consolidate and clarify guidance regarding the use of CANS, OCS has convened a workgroup to develop a policy for CANS use. VACo is participating in this workgroup, which has developed a draft policy that seeks to streamline minimum requirements for CANS administration. The SEC is expected to approve releasing the draft policy for public comment at its meeting on September 20.

Utilization management: Community Policy and Management Teams (CPMTs) are tasked in state statute with reviewing and analyzing data on usage of CSA services. At an SEC meeting earlier this year, OCS audit staff informed the SEC that CPMTs varied in the degrees to which they engaged in such efforts. The SEC directed OCS to convene a workgroup that could identify and share best practices in quality improvement among localities. VACo is participating in the workgroup, which has been discussing data elements that are already captured in some manner by local programs or OCS and could be compiled into a simple dashboard that could be reviewed by CPMTs. Supervisor Biggs, who serves on the workgroup, will be reporting on this work to the SEC on September 20.

VACo Contact: Katie Boyle

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