|Action||Establish Regulation for State Oversight of Local Departments of Social Services|
|Comment Period||Ends 3/19/2021|
The proposed regulation authorizes the Commissioner to direct and oversee public assistance and social services programs in a county or city if that locality “fails, refuses, or is unable to provide public assistance or social services in accordance with the Code of Virginia.” The regulation also authorizes the Commissioner to withhold the locality’s reimbursement for administrative expenditures, in whole or in part, for the period of time in which the locality fails to operate public assistance or social services programs in accordance with state laws and regulations or “fails to provide the necessary staff for the implementation of such programs.”
As noted in our public comments at the State Board of Social Services meeting in August 2019, the language of the regulation is very general and provides little guidance to local departments about when they may be deemed to be failing to provide services and how the state oversight would be implemented. We would encourage the incorporation of procedures that would provide specificity regarding when and how this authority would be exercised. Based on our discussions with the Department in fall 2019, we understand that the Department was developing such a set of procedures; at a minimum, the language of the regulation should stipulate that the authority envisioned in the regulation would be implemented in accordance with these procedures, which should also be vetted through the regulatory process, in order to allow stakeholder participation in their development.
We would recommend that the following elements be addressed in such a procedure:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment. We appreciated the opportunity to discuss these issues with the Department in fall 2019 and would be glad to have further discussions at the Department’s convenience.