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Date Posted: 02/13/2018

DYS Adds Deputy Director of Operations

For Immediate Release:

Feb. 13, 2018


Media Contact: 
Amy Webb,
DHS Chief of Communications and Community Engagement
501-682-8946, amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


DYS Adds Deputy Director of Operations with Extensive Facilities-Management Experience

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) has hired Jon Brown as its new deputy director to focus on the day-to-day operations of the division and the facilities it runs.   

Brown, who has been with the Office of Security at DHS for the last four months, worked for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for over 40 years and oversaw the daily operations of all 52 state parks.

“Jon has a proven track record of leading staff and managing facilities, and I am excited that he’s agreed to bring his knowledge to DYS,” Guhman said. “This is the right time for Jon to join us because the upcoming reviews and strategic planning efforts  provide unique opportunities  to  transform key aspects of  the juvenile justice system with the help of our judges and others. Jon’s management support and oversight will allow me to focus on these reform efforts.”

DYS took over the daily management of seven of the state’s juvenile facilities in January 2017. The State plans to continue to run the facilities until July 2019, which will allow for the review mentioned above and a new competitive bidding process.

“During the next year we will continue to improve the services and infrastructure at our residential treatment facilities.  We will ensure that programs are operated in accordance with American Correctional Association standards. The residential service system review will help us design a model system of care, based on needs of our youth and  designed to maximize state and federal resources.” Guhman said. “Jon’s experience with statewide facilities and programs and the state procurement process will be invaluable as we face the important year ahead." 



Date Posted: 01/30/2018

White to Re-Join DHS as Deputy Director for Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Programs

For Immediate Release

Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications



LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ---The Arkansas Department Human Services (DHS) announced Tuesday that Mark White will serve as the new Deputy Director of the Division for Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health (DAABH).

White has nearly 15 years of experience in State government, with about five of those as a senior executive. He was named DHS chief counsel in March 2013 and was then promoted to Deputy Director of DHS in 2015. As Deputy Director of DHS, he oversaw over half of the department, including all the Medicaid, health and community programs. Since September 2016, White has served as the Director of Legal Services for the nonprofit Arkansas Public School Resource Center.

White has a long history of state service outside DHS, as well. He has served as a lawyer for the Arkansas Department of Education, an Administrative Law Judge with the Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission and as former Governor Mike Huckabee’s Policy Advisor for Regulatory Affairs.

“Mark has extensive knowledge of this area of DHS. He is a steady, capable leader who is highly respected in this agency and across the state. There was no doubt that he was the right choice for this new position,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie.

White will begin in his new DHS role on February 19. In this role, White will work with Craig Cloud, Director of the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance, and DAABH Director Jay Hill to transition and integrate programs that benefit aging Arkansans into the new division. Act 913 of the 2017 legislative session created the DAABH division, which combines the services of two previously distinct divisions within DHS: Aging and Adult Services and Behavioral Health.

“I look forward to working with Mark and Jay as we transition to the new divisions and reshape how DHS works in this arena,” said Cloud.

Following this transition, White will oversee Adult Protective Services and aging programs previously handled by the Divisions of Aging and Adult Services and Behavioral Health Services, including the ARChoices program and DHS’s work with Community Mental Health Centers. Adult Protective Services investigates reports of maltreatment and neglect of older Arkansans. The ARChoices program offers personal care and assistance to adults with physical disabilities so that they can remain in their homes rather than receiving care in an institution.

DAABH offers services and programs to improve the quality of life of aging Arkansans, adults with physical disabilities, and those who need mental health resources. In addition to the programs White will oversee, the division coordinates the state’s community mental health system, oversees two facilities, the Arkansas State Hospital and the Arkansas Health Center, as well as the substance abuse programs operating under the office of the State Drug Director.




Date Posted: 11/09/2017

Drug Take Back Sets Record

For Immediate Release
Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications and Community Engagement
Call 682-8650 or amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Prescription Drug Take Back Day Collects Record 14 Tons in Arkansas

Law enforcement officials representing 152 agencies collected a record 28,035 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs during a recent drug take back event, according to Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. Collection sites were staffed at 171 location across the state.

“The most important statistic in every take back event is a number that we’ll never know – the number of tragedies we prevent and the lives we save by tossing out old prescription drugs at collection sites,” Governor Asa Hutchinson noted. “I applaud Director Lane for his leadership in making our state a safer place.”

The 14 tons of unwanted, old or expired prescription drugs collected is estimated to be 28.9 million pills. Arkansas ranks eleventh nationally in weight collected and fifth in weight collected per capita, according to Lane.

“I am proud to see this record setting number for Arkansas that will have a lasting life-saving impact on our state physically as well as environmentally,” said Lane. “The hard work and partnerships that made this possible, as well as the participation of everyday Arkansans, demonstrates that working together we can solve the unintentional overdose issue.”

Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S., exceeding vehicle fatalities by 50 percent. More than 140 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. According to the latest information available, 1,067 people In Arkansas died from drug overdose in the years 2013-2015 (319 in 2013, 356 in 2014, and 392 in 2015). Arkansas is in the top 20 percent of states that prescribe the most painkillers per capita.

The Arkansas Drug Take Back day was dedicated to the memory of Nicholas “Cheezy” Alexander Kellar who was only 23-years-old when he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in April 2017 following a long, hard battle with addiction.

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Date Posted: 11/08/2017

DHS, AID & DWS Announce Health Care Landscape Study to Strengthen Health Care Coverage in Arkansas

Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement Officer
501-682-8946 desk
501-837-8199 mobile

Public Meetings Set to Begin on Study of Health Care Landscape in Arkansas

A series of public meetings designed to help the State assess the health care coverage landscape in Arkansas and determine ways to strengthen it will begin in late November, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) announced Monday.

The public meetings follow an announcement in October by DHS, AID and DWS that the agencies will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state’s overall health care coverage landscape. The assessment builds on a requirement in the Arkansas Works law that the agencies analyze the small business insurance market in Arkansas. Leavitt Partners, LLC in partnership with Health Management Associates, are assisting with the assessment.The assessment will include surveys, focus groups and gathering data related to insurance and Medicaid.

The goal of this assessment is to develop policy options that address issues identified during the research and data gathering phase of the assessment, including making specific recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. The focus of the recommendations will be on programmatic and regulatory changes the state can make to: (1) strengthen the small group private insurance market; (2) improve the large group private insurance market; and (3) promote long-term sustainability of Medicaid.

All workgroup meetings are open to the public and will be held from 9 to 11 a.m.at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service auditorium at 2301 S University Ave, Little Rock, AR 72204 on the following dates:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Date Posted: 10/24/2017

DDS Letter Sent to Waiver Providers

Immediate Release
Melissa Stone
DDS Director

Providers receive official notice from Department of Human Services

The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) sent information yesterday to providers regarding changes to Medicaid waiver services, independent assessments and care coordination.
You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking the link below. Please let me know if you have any questions. We appreciate your support of our programs and clients.


Date Posted: 10/19/2017

DHS, AID & DWS Announce Health Care Landscape Study to Strengthen Health Care Coverage in Arkansas

Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement Officer
501-682-8946 desk
501-837-8199 mobile


DHS, AID & DWS Announce Health Care Landscape Study to Strengthen Health Care Coverage in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) are conducting a comprehensive assessment of the state’s overall health care coverage landscape, building on a requirement in the Arkansas Works law that the agencies analyze the small business insurance market in Arkansas and make recommendations on how the Legislature can strengthen that market. The assessment will include Medicaid, and both the small and large group private insurance markets in Arkansas. We are being assisted in conducting this research by Leavitt Partners, LLC in partnership with Health Management Associates.

The first step of the assessment will be electronic surveys sent out next week to about 200 small business officials who make decisions about health benefits and one to about 2,000 insured and uninsured adults in Arkansas. 
“We recognized that the small group market cannot be looked at in isolation since individuals working for small businesses may be insured either through the individual insurance market or receiving health coverage through Medicaid. Therefore, Commissioner Kerr and I have worked closely together to design a study that looks more comprehensively at the landscape of health care coverage in this state, in order to develop options to strengthen not only the small group market but also to continue strengthening the individual market while ensuring the long-term sustainability of Medicaid for those who truly need government assistance,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie.

"Employer-related health insurance is the foundation for Arkansas Works, and this joint effort between AID and DHS to strengthen the state’s health insurance market is something that I am proud to participate in as it will directly benefit Arkansas policyholders and businesses,” said AID Commissioner Allen Kerr.

What is the goal of the assessment? 
The assessment will generate a point-in-time look at health care coverage in the state, which will help identify key issues impacting public and private health insurance. The goal is to develop implementable policy options that address the issues identified during the research and data gathering phases of the assessment. 

What and who will be included in the assessment? 
The assessment will include all aspects of the health care coverage system in Arkansas. Of particular interest are coverage issues related to the uninsured, the individual market, small and large group insurance, Medicaid, and other government health care coverage programs. The assessment will cover all parts of the state.

The assessment will use data from a variety of sources, including publicly available data, surveys, and focus groups. It also will leverage findings from interviews and workgroups held with key stakeholders such as legislators, the Department of Finance and Administration, insurance companies, health systems, hospitals, provider groups, the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, employers, brokers and key advocates.

What is the purpose of the surveys and the focus groups?
To fully understand the perspectives of consumers and employers, their motivations, the challenges they face, and the changes they would like to see for the future, we will conduct a series of surveys and focus groups. These will be especially useful for understanding how and why employers make decisions to offer or not offer coverage, and how and why consumers make decisions to purchase or not purchase coverage. Online surveys will be sent to employers and consumers via email. Focus groups will be held in-person with small group employers (comprised of about 8-10 participants each).

Who is conducting the assessment? 
We are being assisted in conducting this research by Leavitt Partners, LLC in partnership with Health Management Associates. Leavitt Partners is a health care intelligence firm that has worked with many states to complete large scale evaluations. Under our guidance, Leavitt Partners will conduct the necessary surveys, focus groups and stakeholder outreach, and complete the appropriate research. 

When will the assessment be completed?
The evaluation will be in process throughout the latter part of this year. It is expected that all research activities related to the point-in-time report will wrap up by the end of this year, at which time DHS, AID, and DWS will begin working with stakeholders to delve into the policy options identified to potentially strengthen the small group and individual markets, in order to develop specific recommendations for the Governor and Arkansas Legislature to consider. It is expected that the recommendations will be completed no later than March 2018.


Date Posted: 10/13/2017

Tracy Turner among 10 receiving special DHS recognition

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Brandi Hinkle, Deputy Director of Communications 
501-350-5380 mobile

Tracy Turner among 10 receiving special DHS recognition

During the 2017 Arkansas Human Services Employees Association (AHSEA) banquet Thursday night in Little Rock, Tracy Turner was named Outstanding Employee of the Year across the agency.
Turner, a Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) First Connections Coordinator in Central Offices, was named AHSEA Outstanding Employee of the Year. The conference room in the office of the director will be renamed for the year in her honor.   

The First Connections (Part C Early Intervention) Program is a statewide system of services to assist infants and toddlers up to age 3 who have certian levels of developmental delay and their families on an individualized basis. By assisting in locating and coordinating services, the program enhances not only the child’s abilities to learn and interact with their peers but assists the family with education and training to better understand their child's needs and promote development.Turner works with the families of 900 children throughout the state. 

“Tracy instills her love of families into each of her duties,” said DDS Chief Financial OfficerThomas Tarpley, Turner’s supervisor. “Many of our colleagues are themselves parents of a child who has developmental disabilities, so Tracy sees first-hand the importance of the services she coordinates. She uses her quirky personality and seemingly unlimited knowledge to make the workplace conducive to being productive, yet relaxed.
“Overall, she’s an outstanding representative of DHS,” Tarpley said. “Tracy frequently speaks at conferences and conventions which are attended by human services employees from across the nation. She uses an impressive solutions-focused approach to navigate through and complete her responsibilities.”            

Turner, who has been with DHS for more than 24 years, was one of 10 employees from across the state honored Thursday.

Additional honorees are:


Date Posted: 10/12/2017

DHS set to launch new Medicaid Management Information System Nov. 1

Media Contact:
Amy Webb, Chief of Communications and Community Engagement
501-682-8946 or amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


DHS set to launch  new Medicaid Management Information System Nov. 1

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that it will launch its new Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS) Wednesday, Nov. 1. The new system will streamline claims processing and provide a more efficient reimbursement method for both providers and the state. Doctors and hospitals will now have the ability to submit claims and other documents electronically.

The new MMIS replaces the current system, which is more than 30 years old and runs on outdated mainframe technology. In State Fiscal Year 2016, the current system processed more than 45 million claims submitted by providers.
“When implementing any system this size, there will no doubt be issues that come up, but we have worked hard to minimize the risks and are prepared to quickly address any issues that arise,” said Division of Medical Services Director Rose Naff.  "We have conducted extensive training across the state for Medicaid providers to get acquainted with the new system and internally we tested 350,000 claims. We will continue testing the system all the way up to November."

DHS and Arkansas Medicaid have worked closely with the Arkansas Hospital Association, the Arkansas Medical Society and other related businesses to help providers prepare for the new system. Some Medicaid providers still need to take action so that they will be able to submit claims and get paid after Nov. 1. Providers – or their billing entities – must obtain a new “trading partner ID” to submit electronic claims in the new system (trading partner IDs replace submitter IDs). Without this, payments will be delayed.
In addition, providers must register on the new provider portal in order to access new services, such as real-time eligibility verification, submitting electronic claims, reviewing claim statuses, and submitting prior authorization forms and other documentation.
Providers can obtain a trading partner ID and register for the portal by going to this link https://www.medicaid.state.ar.us/provider/FL_HELP.html. Providers with questions should email Tim Taylor at Tim.Taylor@dhs.arkansas.gov.

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Date Posted: 10/10/2017

Governor Proclaims Oct. 15 White Cane Safety Day

Kandy Cayce
DHS Division of Services for the Blind
501-682-0332 or kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov


Governor Proclaims Oct. 15 White Cane Safety Day 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed Sunday, Oct. 15 as White Cane Safety Day in Arkansas, in conjunction with Blind Awareness and National Disability Employement Awareness Months. For people all over the country who are blind and visually impaired, a white cane is an important tool and a symbol that means safety, mobility and freedom.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Services for the Blind (DSB), along with other blindness groups, is having a White Cane Safety Day observance Friday, Oct. 13 in the auditorium of World Services for the Blind, 2811 Fair Park Blvd., in Little Rock. The hour-long event will start at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public. Free parking is available along Tyler Street or in the large parking lot at Tyler and 29th Streets, diagonally across from the rear entrance. 
Cindy Gillespie, director of the Department of Human Services and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, will be the keynot speaker.

Before joining DHS, Gillespie served as a principal in the Washington D.C. office of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice and was a leader of the firm’s Health Policy and Health Insurance Exchange Teams. Earlier, Gillespie served as a senior advisor to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, where she led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ interactions with the federal government and played a leading role in the development of the state’s health reforms.
White Cane Safety Day has been observed every year since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law in 1964. The first White Cane Ordinance was passed in 1930 in Peoria, Illinois and granted pedestrians carrying a white cane protections and the right-of-way.

Other states, including Arkansas, soon adopted similar laws. The white cane is a symbol of independence, because it increases mobility for people who are blind or visually impaired. The white cane also raises awareness for pedestrian safety. 
For information about DSB programs and services, visit the DSB website at http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/dsb/Pages/default.aspx or call 1-800-960-9270 , 501-682-5463 , or Deaf Relay 711. 


Date Posted: 09/29/2017

Second Annual DHS Fall Food, Crafts Fair Celebrates Employment for People with Disabilities

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Brandi Hinkle, DHS Deputy Chief of Communications
501-683-5286 desk or 501-350-5380 mobile

Second Annual Fall Food, Crafts Fair Celebrates Supported Employment for People with Disabilities

More than 20 vendors hawked their wares at the 2nd annual Arkansas Department of Human Services Fall Food and Crafts Fair held outside the Central Offices in downtown Little Rock, but it was more than just a way to draw a crowd and sell crafts.
All items were made by clients of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services and included custom-made rugs, fresh vegetables grown, jams and jellies, gift baskets, t-shirts, magnets, birdhouses and unique art pieces.

“Each item is more than just a product for sale,” said Division Director Melissa Stone. “There are unique and loving stories behind each piece, and it’s an opportunity for our clients to feel value and pride in what they’ve done when they are paid for their work.”

The Division provides funding for community and facility-based care and services to thousands of Arkansans and operates five residential Human Development Centers in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro and Warren that are home to nearly 1,000 clients.

Its mission is to work with clients so they can be as independent as possible and have a high quality of life, Stone said. 

“More than 120 clients at our center in Booneville create beautiful rugs from recycled scraps of material from a sock manufacturer,” Stone said. “Clients do all the work, from initial sorting of the scraps, dying materials and working the loom to weave assorted sizes of rugs. They can do custom pieces based on colors and size, and it provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment for them.” 
A live auction with celebrity auctioneers Roger Scott, co-host of the Buzz 103.7 “Show With No Name,” and Rex Nelson, columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and social media blogger, allowed several clients to be recognized for their handmade items.

For more information about programs offered through DHS and DDS, visit humanservices.arkansas.gov.


Date Posted: 09/22/2017

DHS State Voluntary Agency Liaison Assisting Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Brandi Hinkle, DHS Deputy Chief of Communications
501-683-5286 desk or 501-350-5380 mobile


DHS State Voluntary Agency Liaison Assisting Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

The State Voluntary Agency Liaison from the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Communications and Community Engagement was deployed Friday to Austin, Texas, for the next two weeks to assist with volunteer management as part of the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in the gulf.

In her position, Susan Love acts on behalf of DHS to coordinate volunteer groups’ efforts with state agencies, assesses community needs during disasters, manages volunteers and donations, and supports efforts to develop long-term strategies.

It is through a request from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and approval from the Office of the Governor that she is able to participate in the relief efforts on behalf of the state.
She will be serving in the federal Joint Field Office, which provides a central location for the coordination of federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and private sector and nongovernmental organizations with primary responsibility for response and recovery.  

“The devastation Hurricane Harvey dealt Texas was extensive, and volunteers will be critical to recovery," said Amy Webb, DHS chief communications and community engagement officer. “We are proud Susan has been recognized for her skills and that she can use them to help our neighbors."
For more information about ways to assist the relief efforts, visit www.volunteerar.org.


Date Posted: 06/08/2011

Conway HDC Lawsuit Dismissed

Chief U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Conway Human Development Center by the U.S. Department of Justice saying the federal government failed to prove that the state-run facility did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

“When the Justice Department raises concerns you have to take them seriously. In this case, Gov. Beebe listened to them, but he came down foursquare on the side of the residents and family members, who said they were pleased with the care at Conway,” said John Selig, Director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. “Attorney General McDaniel took the same position, and he got personally involved with the legal team to ensure that the state was well represented.”
Charlie Green, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, said the decision, “Shows that we provide much-needed care that can withstand scrutiny by anybody.”

Judge Holmes’ decision validates what the parents and guardians of those living at the Conway Human Development Center already knew – the staff there work hard to provide good care and the clients consider the center home, said Calvin Price, Superintendent of the center for the last nine years.
“We have a dedicated and loyal staff, who took the Department of Justice’s allegations personally,” Price said. “They have always worked diligently to ensure the clients are safe and well taken care of. It’s clear that the judge understood that.”

Since the Arkansas Department of Human Services began dealing with the Justice Department over the Conway center eight years ago, the state has maintained that it provides clients with the care they need in an appropriate setting. The state also has championed the rights of parents and guardians to choose where their loved ones would live.
Holmes found that center staff provided parents and guardians with adequate information about their loved ones’ living option, whether that be in the community or at a human development center. The judge also noted in his findings of fact that the Justice Department’s decision to pursue the lawsuit was at odds with the parents and guardians who testified that staff genuinely cared for their family members.
Larry Taylor, president of the statewide group of parents and guardians of people living at human development centers, said Holmes’ decision puts an end to years of uncertainty about what would have happened to center clients.

“I don’t know that anything this important has happened since the Conway center opened over 50 years ago, “ Taylor said. “We knew there was no better place for our loved ones. We appreciate Gov. Beebe defending the lawsuit and our parents’ and guardians’ right to choose the setting that is best for their loved ones.”

Taylor said Holmes’ decision puts an end to years of uncertainty about what would have happened to the center clients.

Holmes found that the state had not met all the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but noted that center officials had supplied the Arkansas Department of Education with a corrective action plan. On Wednesday, center officials were notified that the Department of Education had cleared the facility of all findings related to the special education program.

News Release > Date Posted: 06/14/2011

DCFS Recognizes 112 Youth in Foster Care, now High School Graduates

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) recently recognized 112 youth in the foster care system who graduated from high school at its third annual Educational Recognition Luncheon.

“We are proud of our graduates,” said DCFS Director Cecile Blucker. “They have overcome a great deal in life. I am excited we have so many graduates who have plans to go for higher education, and some are looking at the military as an option. These graduates have future plans and a lot of life experiences that will help them become successful in their endeavors.”
Doug Cantrell, the CEO and part owner of the New Golf of Castle Valley Golf Course and Country Club in South West Little Rock, gave the keynote address. Cantrell spent much of his youth in Tennessee’s foster care system.
He encouraged the graduates to continue their education, follow their dreams and not allow any circumstance to hold them back.

About 200 people attended the luncheon, including youth in foster care, foster parents, teachers, clergy and DCFS staff. They lauded the accomplishments of these young Arkansans.

Youth Advisory Board President Sedella White also spoke. White urged audience members to learn about the obstacles people have overcome before making a judgment about them based on their age or background.
Fifty-two graduates of the class of 2011 attended the luncheon held May 25. They received a certificate and other items acknowledging their hard work during the event.

For more information on foster care in Arkansas, go to http://www.fosterarkansas.org.

News Release > Date Posted: 06/09/2011

DHS seeks more Summer Food Service Program sponsors to feed children

Schools, non-profit agencies or government entities have until June 15 to apply to serve as sponsors of sites that will provide meals for children in the 2011 Summer Food Service Program in Arkansas. The three-month program is administered by the Child Nutrition Program of the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education.

There is no cost for organizations to serve as sponsors in the program. Once approved, organizations may receive an upfront payment of up to 65 percent of their projected budget for the program. All sponsors receive training before starting the program to learn how to plan, operate and monitor a successful food service program. Sponsors submit claims and are reimbursed weekly.
Last year, Arkansas’ Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by DHS, served 1.2 million meals at 349 sites across the state. The program reimbursed sponsors more than $3.7 million. Even with those numbers and growing participation in the program, Curtis Curry, administrator for the Child Nutrition Program at DHS, estimates that it reaches only about 12 percent of eligible children in the state.

“This is one of the few federal programs that does not have a spending cap, so we can serve as many children as sign up,” Curry said. “Ideally, we want to reach 100 percent of the eligible children.”

More than 279,000 public school children in Arkansas are eligible for the Summer Food Service Program that provides free meals for children at risk of hunger during June, July and August.
A school or school district is eligible to participate in the program if more than 50 percent of its children are eligible to receive free or reduced-cost lunches during the regular school year. That determination is made by the Department of Education based on information provided by a student’s parent or guardian.

So far, 116 providers have been approved to serve meals at 360 sites this summer. Curry expects that number to grow to nearly 170 sponsors and as many as 500 sites across Arkansas.

Recent growth in the program has been credited in part to Governor Mike Beebe’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, which has stepped up efforts to attract more sponsors of this under-utilized program. Additionally, the DCC/ECE Child Nutrition staff has held community meetings and worked with the Arkansas Department of Education and other organizations to spread the word about the program. Despite these efforts, there still were 27 Arkansas counties last year, and as many as 20 so far this year, where no organization has applied to serve as a sponsor. It is likely children in those counties are at risk of hunger and eligible to receive free meals. These summer feeding programs fill the gap for families that depend on free and reduced price breakfast and lunch programs during the school year to meet the daily nutrition needs of their children.

“Good childhood nutrition is important to proper growth and learning. That’s why the federal government thinks this is important enough to fund this program,” Curry said. Sites may serve up to two meals per day and may choose from breakfast, lunch, a snack or supper. Each meal served must meet USDA nutritional guidelines.

For more information on how to serve as a sponsor for the Summer Food Service Program in Arkansas, contact the Special Nutrition Program at the Arkansas Department of Human Services at 1-800-482-5850, at 501-682-8869 or visit the special nutrition website at https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/snp. Parents can also locate Summer Food Service Programs in their area by using the search tool on the website.

** Moody Chapel is holding a kick-off tomorrow for its Summer Food Service Program:

Summer Food Kick-Off
June 10, 2011 10am-1:00pm
Moody Chapel
5630 Mabelvale Pike
Little Rock, AR

Rev. Hezekiah Stewart
378-7615 or 378-0176

News Release > Date Posted: 05/13/2011

May is National Foster Care Month

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) kicked off National Foster Care Month on Friday to raise awareness of the critical need for more foster homes in the state. Last year in Arkansas more than 7,200 children were in foster care. In a given day up to 4,000 children are in DHS’s care, however only 1,300 open foster homes exist.

“Nothing is more precious than a child,” said Cecile Blucker, Director of the DHS Division of Children and Family Services. “But unfortunately in the state of Arkansas we have more kids in the foster care system than we have foster homes open. We want to help create the awareness to the citizens of Arkansas that are willing to open their homes to these wonderful kids on a temporary basis that we need your help to make a difference in these children and families lives.”

Qualified foster homes are needed for children of all ethnicities, sibling groups and children with special needs to include children with emotional, mental or medical conditions are the highest need.

“We realize not everyone can open their house to a child in foster care,” said Amanda Hogan, Resource Worker in Garland County. “However others can get involved by becoming a volunteer or a sponsor of a foster child.”

Volunteers and mentors are always needed for children in foster care. Mentors are needed to assist older youth who are in the most need of attention. More than 50% of the young people in foster care in Arkansas are over the age of 10 years old. Sometimes these young people age out of the foster care system without the appropriate family connections, resources, mentorship, employment, skills, and/or options they need to live independently.

Arkansas’ Transitional Youth Services team is working towards closing this gap by helping these older kids come out of the foster care system with the skills they need to succeed in life.

“The community can play a significant role in assisting youth make successful transitions to adulthood,” said Jonathan Dunkley, Director of Transitional Youth Services. “From being a mentor, or advocate, to offering a young adult an internship or job, members of the community can and must be involved if we are going to see these youth succeed!”

We are asking for a “Call to Action in Arkansas” as we are seeking more everyday people to come forward to help these young people realize their full potential no matter what obstacles they have had to overcome in their short lives.

For more information about become a foster parent or sponsor please visit us on the web at News Release > Date Posted: 05/09/2011

Ellen Galinsky headlines Work-Life Conference

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (May 9, 2011) – Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of Families and Work Institute, presented the keynote address at the eighth annual Governor’s Work-Life Balance Award luncheon. The event, held Monday, May 9, at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, recognized Arkansas companies for their creative approaches in developing programs to promote a healthy balance between work and family issues.

“Research has shown that companies that recognize and support the needs of their employees have a more productive workforce,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “I applaud these companies for finding innovative ways – many of which are low-cost– to help their employees find a balance between the demands of the workplace and the demands on the home front. They are proof that sometimes a little creativity can go a long way in retaining skilled employees.”

Through the Families and Work Institute, Ms. Galinsky co-directed the “National Study of the Changing Workforce,” the most comprehensive nationally representative study of the U.S. workforce and “When Work Works,” a project on workplace flexibility and effectiveness funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She has written more than 40 books and reports – as well as more than 100 articles in academic journals, books and magazines – on work-life issues in the business community. Her most recent book Mind in the Making, The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, discusses research on critical skills that help children reach their full potential. Ms. Galinsky held a book signing immediately after the luncheon.

Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon, & Galchus, a law firm based in Little Rock, was named a Work-Life Ambassador at this year’s event. Ambassadors share their expertise and success stories with other Arkansas employers in an effort to assist them with their work-life balance issues. Bank of the Ozarks in Little Rock was named a Mature Worker Ambassador.

Other award winners were:

Small Company:

Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc., Fayetteville

Medium Company – For Profit:
Transamerica Worksite Marketing, Little Rock

Large Company – For Profit:
Science Applications International Corporation

Medium Company – Nonprofit:
Arkansas Educational Television Network, Conway

Large Company – Nonprofit:
University of Arkansas Fayetteville, Fayetteville

Spotlight Winners:
Central Flying Service, Inc.
Winrock International
Hutchinson Financial, Inc.
Southwestern Energy Company
Vestcom International

Mature Worker Winners:

Arkansas Educational Television Network, Conway
White County Medical Center, Searcy
St. Vincent Health System, Little Rock

Partners in the initiative are Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Business Publishing Group, Arkansas Child Care Resource and Referral Network, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Arkansas Department of Human Services/Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Arkansas Head Start Collaboration Office, DHS/Division of County Operations, Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Early Childhood Commission, Arkansas Society of Human Resource Managers, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

News Release > Date Posted: 05/09/2011

DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance

(Little Rock--) The Department of Human Services has announced counties eligible to receive SNAP Disaster Assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, has approved the following counties for the Disaster SNAP (DSNAP) as a result of the April 23rd severe storms and tornados: Benton, Clay, Faulkner, Garland, Lincoln, Pulaski, Randolph, and Saline Counties. Any household that resided within one of the designated counties at the time of the April 23rd severe storms and tornados and suffered disaster losses may be eligible to receive temporary DSNAP assistance. DSNAP benefits are provided via an electronic debit-like card and can be used to purchase food items at grocery stores and other authorized retailers.

Residents in any of the designated counties may be eligible if the household experienced at least one of the following conditions as a direct result of the April 23rd, 2011 storms and tornados:

Damage to or destruction of the home or self-employment business. Loss or inaccessibility of income including a reduction or termination of income or a significant delay in receiving income due to disaster related problems.
Disaster-related expenses (home or business repairs, temporary shelter, evacuation, etc) that are not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster benefit period.

Please note that residents seeking assistance may apply beginning Tuesday, May 10, 2011 through Wednesday, May 18th 2011 for the Disaster SNAP. To apply, please contact your local DHS office.

Households applying for Disaster SNAP must actually have lived in the disaster area at the time of the storms and must have suffered loss or damages.

News Release > Date Posted: 06/29/2011

Three week program gives students who are blind crash course in life

News Release > Date Posted: 05/17/2011

DHS to make changes at State Hospital

News Release > Date Posted: 06/06/2011

June 6—DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance

News Release > Date Posted: 05/17/2011

May 17—DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance

News Release > Date Posted: 07/06/2011

July 6—DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance

News Release > Date Posted: 05/31/2011

May 31-DHS announces new Disaster Food Assistance Relief

News Release > Date Posted: 07/15/2011

DHS announces disaster food assistance for Franklin, Johnson Counties

Date Posted: 08/18/2011

ASC program expands with Lions Club International grant

Date Posted: 08/24/2011

Governor Proclaims September Arkansas Volunteer Month

Date Posted: 08/25/2011

3rd Annual State Hospital Creative Expressions Art Exhibition

Date Posted: 08/31/2011

New kiosks helping blind and visually impaired in employment search

Contact: Amy Webb, Director of Communications, (501) 682-8650

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2011

Unemployment is hard.  Trying to find a job when you’re blind or severely visually impaired can be even harder.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) is trying to change that.

Seven new computers kiosks with specialized software that helps people who are blind or visually impaired search for jobs are being installed at Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) offices in Arkadelphia, Hot Springs, Benton, Russellville, Conway, Monticello and Searcy. They should be operational by early September.  These offices were chosen because they are in cities located near college campuses.

The computers have been installed in DWS offices statewide using $50,000 in funding to the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Ten similar accessible computer sites were installed over the last 18 months and are located at DWS offices in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, El Dorado, West Memphis, Jonesboro, Batesville, Harrison, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. To date, 413 persons with vision impairment have taken advantage of the facilities.

The need for computers at state employment offices that are accessible to blind and severely visually impaired consumers was identified in a 2006 survey conducted by the Arkansas’ Workforce Investment Board. Having these tools to find employment has become even more important as the U.S. economy has weakened.

"Persons with vision problems are disproportionately affected by the weak economy because the pool of available workers is larger and more multi-skilled (such as driving) and thus more competitive,” said Katy Morris, director of the Division of Services for the Blind.

“This makes free, on-line job search crucial and makes the state Workforce Center the ideal environment for job-readiness, job-search and job placement, if it is made reasonably as accessible to a person with vision impairment as it is for sighted individuals.”

“These computers and software basically put DSB consumers on equal footing with other job seekers,” said Jim Pearson, manager of the DSB Business and Technology unit. 

The computers have special programs designed to make computer use easier for blind or severely visually impaired people.  JAWS, or Job Access with Speech, is a screen reading software program that makes personal computers accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired. Information is displayed on the screen via text-to-speech or a Braille display. Another program called MAGic can magnify the typical text size up to 36 times.

Each computer kiosk setup costs about $2,800.  Personnel from the DSB technology staff set up the systems, and train local DWS staff to operate and troubleshoot them.  In addition, DSB employees train DWS staff on how to work with a person with vision impairment who comes into their office for assistance

Before these special kiosks were installed, DWS offices couldn’t adequately serve persons needing non-visual access, so they historically didn’t go to the DWS offices for employment services, said Larry Wayland, DSB technology specialist.  
Persons with limited vision who do choose to take advantage of these special kiosks at DWS offices also need training on how to use the specialized software. Training classes are offered through DSB at the division’s computer lab in Little Rock.

Most consumers who already have some experience using a computer can learn how to use the software within a day or two of training, said Wayland.  “Learning how to create resumes, etc. takes more time.” Little Rock resident Sheree Fagan, 38, has used the DWS computer kiosks for job searches since she moved to the state about 18 months ago. 

“It’s made things a lot easier,” said Fagan, who has been legally blind since birth. “It just takes longer for someone who is blind or visually impaired to use a computer. People are a lot more patient and helpful when they see you’re disabled.  Now I can take as long as I want and really put effort into searching for a job. ”

Fagan earned a degree in Textile, Merchandising and Design from Middle Tennessee State University and previously worked as a stylist for a modeling agency in Nashville, Tenn.  She is currently taking an on-line training course to qualify for a job with the Department of Defense.

Placement of the kiosks at DWS offices has also allowed DSB to offer information to people who may not be familiar with the Division or its services.  One DSB counselor checks the sign-in roster at the kiosk and compares the names to people on his caseload. If a visually impaired person who’s not a DSB consumer uses the kiosks, he contacts him or her to ask if they may need services.

“We are pleased to partner with DSB to assist those individuals who are ‘differently-abled’ to access services which make it easier for them to obtain gainful employment,” said DWS Director Artee Williams.

“The partnership with DWS has demonstrated that self-directed job search is reasonably attainable in local workforce centers regardless of vision limitation,” said Morris. “It takes the right mix of resources, education and perseverance from both consumers and their support networks, and working together, we are seeing some promising results in a very difficult economy.”

Recent reports show 222 DSB consumers have become successfully employed since October 1.  They occupy positions such as Secretary, Quality Assurance Coordinator and Elementary School Teacher and earn an average wage of $357 weekly.

News Release > Date Posted: 08/31/2011

Conway woman bucks unemployment trend, wins area award

Date Posted: 08/31/2011

Blytheville woman who’s visually impaired serves others, wins area award

Date Posted: 09/07/2011

Economic Impact of Arkansas Volunteers in 2010

For Immediate Release

September 7, 2011

The Economic Impact of Arkansas Volunteers for 2010
Arkansans donated more than 22 million hours of volunteer service in 2010, the financial equivalent of $529,710,154 worth of work, according to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Community Service and Nonprofit Support’s (DCSNS) annual report, The Economic Impact of Arkansas Volunteers.

The report, done in collaboration with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Institute for Economic Advancement, provides a comprehensive, statewide look at volunteer hours and service. DCSNS, formerly the Division of Volunteerism, has published the report every year since 1983.
“Volunteers in this state do a tremendous amount of work, and this report gives us an opportunity to quantify and recognize their efforts,” DCSNS Director Sherry Middleton said. “Arkansas would not be the same without them.”

In all, 737 businesses, agencies, schools and organizations completed the survey questionnaire about volunteer hours and service for 2010. Combined, they showed a total of 22,744,121 hours of volunteer service by 376,913 Arkansans. For the State of Arkansas to provide equivalent services using general tax revenue, the state’s personal income tax revenue would have to increase by more than $13 billion. That would require a 13.6 percent increase in the state’s personal income tax revenue.

“Like the rest of the nation, Arkansas finds itself confronted by an economic climate that brings great challenges and times that test the fortitude of our people,” Gov. Mike Beebe said in a letter introducing the report. “But we can feel fortunate that, even as we face difficult problems, citizens are volunteering to help one another in numerous ways.”

Volunteer hours were broken down into four categories: direct service, indirect service, boards/commissions and advocacy. Survey results showed that 62.4 percent of volunteers provided direct service, such as tutoring, mentoring or serving food to the needy; 25.5 provided indirect services such as fundraising; 8.2 percent served on boards/commissions or advisory committees without compensation; and 3.9 percent worked as advocates by speaking at meetings extolling the merits of volunteerism or lobbying for additional funding for various services.

Middleton presented Beebe with The Economic Impact of Volunteers in Arkansas 2010 report at the annual Spirit of 110 Awards held at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday afternoon. The award ceremony recognizes state employees and agencies who involve volunteers in state government.

The mission of the DHS Division of Community Service and Nonprofit Support is to strengthen community resources, volunteerism and national service in Arkansas by offering training and technical assistance.

News Release > Date Posted: 09/09/2011

DHS Names Behavioral Health Services Director

News Release > Date Posted: 09/13/2011

Hurricane evacuee who’s blind relocates, wins award for serving others

News Release > Date Posted: 09/20/2011

Gassville man overcomes adversity, regains sight, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 09/21/2011

Long-Term Care Policy Summit Media Alert

News Release > Date Posted: 09/21/2011

ACCESS Arkansas Processing Center Grand Opening Sept. 23, 2011

News Release > Date Posted: 09/23/2011

West Central Arkansas woman achieves goals, wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 09/23/2011

ACCESS Arkansas Processing Center Opens in Batesville

News Release > Date Posted: 09/26/2011

Legislative Committees to Tour New Education Building at AJATC

News Release > Date Posted: 10/03/2011

Woodruff County man regains eyesight, wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/04/2011

Nurse overcomes barriers, regains vision, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/05/2011

Woman overcomes vision problem to pursue passion, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/17/2011

Stuttgart man overcomes adversity, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/18/2011

Arkansas’ First Lady and individuals who are blind and visually impaired observe “Independence Day”

News Release > Date Posted: 10/18/2011

Governor Beebe to highlight AmeriCorps ceremony in Little Rock

News Release > Date Posted: 10/20/2011

Batesville man fights eye disease to save his business, wins area award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/26/2011

State agencies working to increase employment of Arkansans with disabilities

News Release > Date Posted: 10/28/2011

Bentonville Walmart greeter who’s blind wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/31/2011

Event at Capitol Kicks Off Adoption Month

News Release > Date Posted: 11/03/2011

Shannon Hills man overcomes adversity, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 11/03/2011

Results of Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative

News Release > Date Posted: 11/06/2011

Arkansas Medicaid to Launch Electronic Health Records Incentive Program

News Release > Date Posted: 11/06/2011

11,924 Lbs. of medications collected in Arkansas’s third prescription take back event

News Release > Date Posted: 11/16/2011

Adoption Day in Pulaski County

News Release > Date Posted: 11/16/2011

DHS Hires Allison to Oversee State Medicaid Program

News Release > Date Posted: 11/29/2011

Little Rock man who overcame adversity and went on to help others wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 12/09/2011

Relocated Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Named State DSB Consumer of Year

News Release > Date Posted: 12/13/2011

Media Alert—Little Rock Fire Department 10th Annual Toy Drive Downtown Parade

News Release > Date Posted: 01/19/2012

Nominations sought for Arkansas Community Service Awards

News Release > Date Posted: 01/24/2012

Task Force Aims to Help Arkansans with Disabilities Work

News Release > Date Posted: 02/09/2012

More Living Options Available for the Elderly

News Release > Date Posted: 02/10/2012

Contractor Agrees to Take Over ABC Slots for State Starting Monday

News Release > Date Posted: 02/16/2012

DHS Goes ‘Mobile’, Provides Better Access to Services for Rural, Underserved Parts of Arkansas

News Release > Date Posted: 02/17/2012

DHS Goes ‘Mobile’, Increases Access to Public Programs

News Release > Date Posted: 02/26/2012

Providers Needed for Arkansas Summer Food Program

News Release > Date Posted: 04/06/2012

Panel to Discuss Substance Abuse Treatment Gap in Arkansas

News Release > Date Posted: 04/06/2012

Study Shows Advances in Substance Abuse Treatment, But More Work Needed

News Release > Date Posted: 04/10/2012

State Pre-K Program Gains Momentum over Last 10 Years, Report Shows

News Release > Date Posted: 04/11/2012

Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers to Receive Paragon Award

News Release > Date Posted: 04/24/2012

Loss of Federal TANF Funds Means Elimination of Some State Child Welfare Programs

News Release > Date Posted: 05/08/2012

Governor’s Work-Life Balance Award turns 10

News Release > Date Posted: 05/23/2012

Nominations Sought for Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year Awards

News Release > Date Posted: 06/06/2012

Arkansas AmeriCorps Receives National Grants

News Release > Date Posted: 06/06/2012

DHS Seeks Adult Family Home Providers in South and Southeast Arkansas

News Release > Date Posted: 06/22/2012

Elder Maltreatment Symposium Raises Awareness about Abuse, Exploitation

News Release > Date Posted: 06/25/2012

Arkansas insurers join with state, federal services to test unique investment in coordinated medical

News Release > Date Posted: 06/25/2012

Governor Proclaims Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week

News Release > Date Posted: 07/09/2012

Arkansas Medicaid Director Among Six Selected for Medicaid Leadership Institute

News Release > Date Posted: 07/10/2012

Teens gain skills to become independent adults

News Release > Date Posted: 07/25/2012

Governor Visits NLR Summer Food Service Program Site

News Release > Date Posted: 08/24/2012

Long-Term Care Policy Summit registration deadline is August 31

News Release > Date Posted: 08/24/2012

Arkansas Seniors Participate in Silver Haired Legislative Session

News Release > Date Posted: 09/04/2012

Governor Beebe Proclaims September Arkansas Volunteer Month

News Release > Date Posted: 09/04/2012

Primary care practices in Arkansas chosen to test unique investment in coordinated medical care

News Release > Date Posted: 10/02/2012

Hot Springs massage therapist who’s blind wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 10/29/2012

DCFS Meets Federal Goals, Continues Work to Improve Services and Prevent Abuse

News Release > Date Posted: 10/30/2012

Arkansas Volunteer Communities of the Year Announced

News Release > Date Posted: 11/26/2012

Small business owner who’s visually impaired gains hope, wins award

News Release > Date Posted: 11/26/2012

Blytheville woman who’s visually impaired wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 11/26/2012

Former Bentonville man who’s blind gains job and award

News Release > Date Posted: 11/27/2012

DOJ Says Division of Youth Services Met or Exceeded Goals in Consent Decree

News Release > Date Posted: 12/05/2012

Restored vision enables Newport man to serve others and win award

News Release > Date Posted: 12/05/2012

Grady man gains access to career, wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 12/10/2012

Fort Smith speech pathologist who’s blind wins service award

News Release > Date Posted: 12/10/2012

Band teacher who’s blind wins achievement award

News Release > Date Posted: 12/10/2012

Achievement awards to be presented to six with vision impairments

News Release > Date Posted: 12/13/2012

Downtown Little Rock Toy Parade Scheduled for Friday

News Release > Date Posted: 12/14/2012

Arkansas man who’s blind gains freedom, wins state achievement award

News Release > Date Posted: 01/18/2013

Providers Needed for Arkansas Summer Food Program

News Release > Date Posted: 01/31/2013

Free Cooking Classes Planned to Help Child Care Centers and Families

News Release >

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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