TANF New Reporting Requirements for Child Welfare

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has issued new guidance for states on reporting child welfare expenditures claimed to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) effective quarter ending December 31, 2014. The report due to ACF by February 14, 2015 will provide greater detail on how TANF funds are actually spent for foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship payments, as well as other spending on child welfare services. [More]

Congress’ Break Left Bipartisan Legislation Hanging

The summer break for Congress ended without passage of H.R. 4980, the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.” The legislation has bipartisan support for a comprehensive bill that includes the adoption incentive program, the Family Connections grants, as well as new requirements for child welfare agencies involved with victims of sex trafficking. [More]

Secretary Duncan Allows States to Delay Using Student Test Scores in Teacher Evaluations

On August 21, 2014, in response to teachers’ concerns, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that states may request a delay in when student test results will be used in the teacher evaluation process. As part of the Obama Administration’s education reform agenda, states have been urged to create and use teacher evaluation systems that factored into account students’ standardized test results. Teachers have maintained that it is too soon to apply the new evaluation systems because teachers need more time to come up to speed on the new standards upon which the tests are based. [More]

After Three Years, Future of NCLB Waivers Uncertain

In 2011, the Obama Administration offered states flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in exchange for initiating education reform. The Administration resorted to using NCLB waivers after Congress failed to reauthorize the Act to eliminate some of its more unworkable provisions. The procured flexibility gave states relief from some of NCLB’s most stringent requirements and penalties; however, three years later, some states’ efforts toward education reform are not going as well as anticipated and some implementation deadlines may not be met. According to an August 18, 2014 Education Week online article, some experts believe that the hurdles for states are caused by the Administration’s education reform strategy of tying together Common Core State Standards, new aligned student assessments, and teacher performance. [More]

Commonwealth Fund Issues Report on Successful Care Management

The Commonwealth Fund has released an August 2014 study entitled, “Caring for High-Need, High-Cost Patients: What Makes for a Successful Care Management Program?” The study examines best practices of successful complex care management (CCM) programs and how each program customized its design and implementation to meet the needs of target populations and geographic areas it serves. The study assesses key factors such as CCM program structure; quantitative and qualitative methods of identifying high-risk patients; multi-disciplinary CCM team composition, scope of work, recruitment, and specialized training; determining caseloads; earning the trust of patients and their families; collaborating with primary care, specialty, behavioral health, and social service providers; and using health information technology to facilitate care management. [More]

HHS Releases Update on Medicare Spending Growth

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) issued a report on July 28, 2014 entitled, “Medicare’s Bending Cost Curve.” The report states that the average per capita growth rate in Medicare spending was 2.3 percent per year in 2009-2012 as compared with 6.3 percent per year in 2000-2008. Medicare claims data for 2013-2014 are not yet complete but indicate that the average per capita growth rate in 2013-2014 could be as low as 0.1 percent. [More]

NY Medicaid Selects PCG as Medicaid Reform Independent Assessor

Albany, NY, August, 2014 – The New York Department of Health recently awarded PCG Health a contract to serve as Independent Assessor for its Medicaid reform efforts. In April, 2014, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved New York State’s waiver, allowing it to redesign its Medicaid system through its new Department of Health Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program. [More]

ED Announces Grant Awards to Reduce AP Exam Fees for Low-Income Students

In an August 12, 2014 press release, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it has awarded a total of $28.4 million in grants to 40 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands to defray most of the costs of advanced placement (AP) exams for low-income high school students. With the awards, the grantees will be able to reduce the $89 AP exam fee to $18 per exam. The grant program is intended to encourage low-income students to take AP exams to qualify for enrollment in AP high school courses for which they can obtain college credit and, potentially, reduce the time and expense for a college degree. [More]

CA Judge Rules that EL Students Are Denied Equal Access to Education

On August 12, 2014, a California (CA) superior court judge ruled that the CA education system failed to provide English Learner (EL) services to EL students, depriving them of an equal educational opportunity as required by state and federal laws. The lawsuit was filed against the state by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California on behalf of three EL students. [More]

ED and HHS Announce Preschool Grant Competition

In an August 13, 2014 joint press release, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of applications for the $250 million Preschool Grants competition. ED and HHS will jointly administer the program, which is intended to support states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in developing high-quality preschools to serve children from low- and moderate-income families in high-needs communities. [More]