CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An outgoing interim chief for the Bureau for Children and Families says the state's federal foster-care program is improving and blames the implementation of new procedures for Child Protective Services for its poor performance in the past.
"It was just one of those things," said Doug Robinson, retired interim commissioner for the BCF. "You can only do so much with limited staff. You can't do everything, and [Title IV-E foster care] suffered some because of SAMS, but it's on the rebound."
SAMS refers to the Safety Assessment and Management System, the state's intake and assessment procedures for CPS, Robinson said.
With the staff's attention being focused on new procedures, there wasn't time to dedicate to improving the state's reimbursement rate for foster children, he said.
"Some of the stuff related to [federal foster-care money] didn't get the appropriate attention that would have benefited the federal reimbursement rate," he said.
The state receives federal money for the care of children in state custody. The money is often called Title IV-E money after the section of law that defines the program. The state pays the costs upfront and applies to the federal government for reimbursement.
As the Gazette reported in September, in three of four federal reviews over a 10-year period, most recently in 2011, the federal government found that the state did not substantially comply with eligibility requirements to get federal assistance for foster care.
According to an audit of the state Department of Health and Human Resources released in April, the state could save $23 million the first year and $117 million over five years by increasing the percentage of foster children for which the state received Title IV-E reimbursements.
Robinson had been on staff with the DHHR since 1993 and became interim commissioner for BCF in July 2012.
He recently retired from BCF to take a job as the deputy commissioner of finance for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, he said.
Sue Hage was been appointed interim commissioner for the state Bureau for Children and Families according to an announcement from DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling that went out to employees and was released by the DHHR communication department.
Robinson inherited the IV-E program sometime in 2010, he estimates, when the program was transferred to his control when he served as the deputy commissioner of operations for the bureau.
He took it over from a staffer who retired after running the IV-E program from 20 years, he said.