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Date Posted: 07/27/2020

Free Crisis Counseling Available for Those Struggling with Stress from COVID-19

For Immediate Release:
July 27, 2020

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Free Crisis Counseling Available for Those Struggling with Stress from COVID-19

Promoting Positive Emotions program completely confidential

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Arkansans dealing with anxiety or other mental health struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic can get free crisis counseling through a new grant funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This pandemic is unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetimes. For many people, it has resulted in anxiety, fear, stress, and literal isolation. All of those things can contribute to a mental health crisis,” said Tammy Alexander, Assistant Director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS), which is administering the grant.

The Promoting Positive Emotions program provides free education and confidential crisis counseling for individuals and families impacted by the current pandemic.

Crisis counseling encourages people to talk about their experiences and concerns in the process of teaching healthy ways to manage stress. Crisis counselors do not label or diagnose people, but they do work with the individual or family to identify needs and assist in connecting them with community resources.

“Some individuals may not want to seek help because they are embarrassed or can’t afford it. That’s why the Promoting Positive Emotions program is free and confidential,” Alexander said.

The Promoting Positive Emotions program provides free confidential crisis counseling as well as useful information and resources, but it does not cover traditional mental health diagnosis or treatment, psychiatric services, medication, or assistance for food, childcare, or financial support. To learn more about other mental health services, call the DHS Mental Health & Addiction Support Line at 1-844-763-0198. For information about childcare, food, or financial assistance during COVID-19, visit humanservices.arkansas.gov/resources/response-covid-19.

For free crisis counseling through the Promoting Positive Emotions program, call the Crisis Support Line at 1-833-993-2382, or visit the website at www.staypositivearkansas.com.

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Date Posted: 07/02/2020

New Fiscal Year Brings More Transformation for Division of Youth Services

For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2020

Media Contacts: 
Lainey Morrow,
Lainey.Morrow@dhs.arkansas.gov 

 

New Fiscal Year Brings More Transformation for Division of Youth Services 

Contractor takes over day-to-day management of all DYS centers

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- With the fiscal year that started July 1, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) officially launched the next phase of its efforts to transform its portion of the juvenile justice system, and for the first time has all of its treatment centers run by a single provider. 

“Youth Services has taken the right path with the mandate to assess the needs of each young person,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “By coupling the right treatment with an emphasis on community assistance for diversion and re-entry, we are offering our youth new hope for success.”

To help ensure there are robust resources in communities across the state, DYS is allocating an additional $2.75 million for the 11 community-based providers in Arkansas that provide re-entry services. The additional funding is available because DYS has closed three of its juvenile treatment centers in the last two years allowing it to divert funds earmarked for residential programs to community programs and through a partnership with the Department of Commerce's Division of Workforce Services. The new funding began July 1, 2020. 

“Over the last few years, DHS has joined Governor Hutchinson, the Arkansas Legislature, Juvenile Judges, youth advocates and the providers of juvenile services in our state to undertake true transformation of our juvenile justice system. It takes all players in the system working together to make change happen, and in Arkansas, we are fortunate to have all aspects of the juvenile system committed to long-term positive change. We share a common goal - for the youth of Arkansas to get the services they need to be successful in the least restrictive setting possible. Together, we’ve made good progress in improving treatment at residential facilities and ensuring youth that are committed stay only as long as needed for treatment,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “This next phase focuses on building community options and services, and just as DYS has done for the first phase, we will be measuring and reporting on progress. It’s exciting to see the improvements thus far and even more exciting to see the juvenile system enter the next phase!”

DYS has restructured how the community-based re-entry programs will work by including mandatory services that all must provide, including:

Each provider will have an additional list of services they offer that are unique to the judicial districts they serve and tailored to meet the needs of the youth they are serving. Each youth will get an individualized treatment plan for re-entry, just as they do when they are placed in DYS custody. 

Also as of July 1, Rite of Passage (ROP) took over the day-to-day management of all four of the state’s juvenile treatment centers. Previously, ROP only managed the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Saline County. It now also runs the Mansfield and Harrisburg juvenile treatment centers and the Dermott 18-21 unit. 

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Date Posted: 06/24/2020

UPDATE: Dates Announced for Re-alignment of DHS Offices in Logan, Monroe Counties

For Immediate Release:

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

UPDATE: Dates Announced for Re-alignment of DHS Offices in Logan, Monroe Counties

Department will continue to have at least one office in every county.

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) expects to complete the first phase of re-alignment of its county offices by mid-August with changes to offices in Logan and Monroe counties.

The dates for action are:

These closures are part of broader re-alignment of county offices announced last fall. Once these offices merge with the other office in those counties, the number of DHS offices will have been reduced by four and two leases on office annexes will end. Though four offices are closing, there is still at least one county office in each of the 75 counties in Arkansas.

The changes are the result of a several month review by DHS’s divisions of County Operations, Children and Family Services, Youth Services, Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Developmental Disabilities Services, Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services as well as the offices of the Secretary, Finance, Information Technology, and Procurement. The goal of the review was to ensure that the location of county offices matches where clients or potential clients are located and to ensure DHS is operating efficiently.

At this time, the offices in Logan and Monroe counties are open and available to clients. 

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Date Posted: 06/10/2020

Number of Overdose Saves Tops 500 through Arkansas Program

For Immediate Release:

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Number of Overdose Saves Tops 500 through Arkansas Program

Milestone shows continued need for education about dangers of opioids

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Naloxone kits and training for law enforcement and other first responders to help them respond to life threatening opioid overdoses have saved over 500 individuals as of the first weekend in June – a milestone that highlights the importance of the Arkansas Naloxone Project and efforts to educate Arkansans about opioid addiction.

“This was never a number we wanted to reach, but I am so thankful that this program exists because that is 500 people who got a second chance at life because of naloxone,” said State Drug Director Kirk Lane, who works with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services.

In October 2016, the Arkansas Naloxone Project began distributing the kits to law enforcement agencies, rural fire and EMS organizations, school nurses, librarians, and treatment and recovery facilities. The kits included a nasal form of naloxone called Narcan. Narcan is an FDA-approved medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid-induced overdose. The Project, which is a partnership among the State Drug Director’s Office, DHS, and the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), has distributed over 7,000 Narcan kits and has provided training to over 8,000 first responders. The kits are funded through federal grants and private grants from the Arkansas Blue & You Foundation.

Illicit and prescription drugs that are opioids or mixed with opioids cause most overdoses and overdose deaths in Arkansas. The ability to administer Narcan has proven to be effective in reducing overdose deaths. There have been lives saved through this project in 33 of Arkansas’s 75 counties, with the most saves in Pulaski County (Arkansas’s most populous county).

Since the COVID 19 public health emergency began in March, Arkansas overdoses increased due to economic, social, and isolation pressures. The Arkansas Naloxone Project recorded 92 saves in this time period compared with 44 during the same period in 2019.

“One thing to know, especially during this time, is that people don’t have to wait for first responders to save a loved one who overdosed,” Lane said. “To reduce the chance of people dying, Governor Asa Hutchinson has issued a standing order allowing Arkansas-licensed pharmacists to sell naloxone to people who have friends and loved ones at risk of overdosing.”

Arkansas Code Annotated 20-13-604 provides immunity from civil liability to those who administer naloxone during an overdose.

To help people administer the medication, the State Drug Director’s Office and Criminal Justice Institute created the nARcansas app, which is a free opioid overdose resource that provides steps on how to administer a life-saving dose of naloxone as well as other valuable resources about opioids. Earlier this year, the app was updated to include voice directions in English and Spanish for administering naloxone.

To download the app, go Google Play or the Apple App Store. To learn more about the State’s efforts to combat opioid abuse, go to www.artakeback.org. To get mental health or addiction help for yourself or a loved one in Arkansas, please call 1-844-763-0198.
 

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Date Posted: 06/01/2020

UPDATE: Re-alignment of DHS County Offices Announced Last Year to be Complete by End of Summer

For Immediate Release:

June 1, 202

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

UPDATE: Re-alignment of DHS County Offices Announced Last Year to be Complete by End of Summer

Department will continue to have at least one county office in every county in Arkansas.

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) expects to complete the re-alignment of its county offices that it announced in November 2019 by the end of August 2020. As a result, the number of county offices will be reduced by four and two leases on office annexes will end.

“For the first time in many years we reviewed the DHS footprint and how many clients we were serving in each office,” said DHS Division of County Operations Director Mary Franklin said. “We found some opportunities to rethink how we were serving clients, and these changes are a big first step toward better meeting the needs of clients.”

The following changes have or will happen:

Though four offices are closing, there is still at least one county office in each of the 75 counties in Arkansas.

The changes first announced in early November are the result of a several month review by DHS’s divisions of County Operations, Children and Family Services, Youth Services, Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Developmental Disabilities Services, Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services as well as the offices of the Secretary, Finance, Information Technology, and Procurement. The goal of the review was to ensure that the location of county offices matches where clients or potential clients are located and to ensure DHS is operating efficiently.

The office moves are expected to reduce leasing and utility costs by $246,500 a year.

At this time, all the offices mentioned above remain open and available to clients. Clients in those areas will be notified in advance of the moves and where they need to go to seek assistance once the moves happen.
 

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Date Posted: 05/22/2020

Food Assistance Approved for Families of Students in Free Lunch Program

For Immediate Release:

May 22, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Alisha Lewis
ADE Director of Communications
alisha.lewis@adhe.edu

 

Food Assistance Approved for Families of Students in Free Lunch Program

Departments of Education, Human Services partner on Pandemic SNAP to help offset meal costs
 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The State of Arkansas received federal approval today to provide food assistance to families of students who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program when schools are in session, the Departments of Education (ADE) and Human Services (DHS) announced today.

Pandemic SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is designed to help replace the cost of meals incurred by families as a result of the State closing schools on March 15 due to the public health emergency created by the coronavirus.

“Obviously, there are many considerations for students when you close face-to-face instruction,” said Education Secretary Johnny Key.  “Making certain students are food secure lessens the burden on families during this time, and it is an extension of our vision to transform Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education.”  

DHS worked with ADE to identify the 303, 120 students in Arkansas who qualify for free or reduced lunches. Families whose income is at 185 percent of the federal poverty level for their household size are eligible for the lunch program. Pandemic SNAP provides $319 per student for missed school days in March, April, and May.

Of the 303, 120 students, 180,316 are not on the traditional SNAP program while 122,804 are. For the families already on SNAP, the $319 will be added to the family’s electronic benefits card (EBT) during the last week of May or first week of June. The total cost of the Pandemic SNAP benefits in Arkansas is $96 million, which will go to grocery stores and other food vendors that accept SNAP.

For families who are not on SNAP, ADE has provided DHS with their addresses. DHS will mail an EBT card, information about Pandemic SNAP, and information about how to access benefits on the EBT card to the address ADE has on file.  The families do not need to apply or take any action to get these benefits as their participation in the free or reduced lunch program make them eligible for Pandemic SNAP. The families have 12 months to use the benefit made available through this program.

“We are happy to partner with the Department of Education as it works to help students and their families who have depended on the free lunch program for nutritious meals,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. 

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Date Posted: 05/15/2020

Additional Federal Child Care Funding to Help Centers, Essential Workers

 

For Immediate Release:

May 15, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb

Chief of Communications

amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Additional Federal Child Care Funding to Help Centers, Essential Workers

Providers given additional pandemic procedures today to ensure safety

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Funding is now available to help licensed child care centers cover costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak and to cover child care costs for some essential workers in Arkansas, a group of State Legislators and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Friday. 

“Safe and high-quality child care is critically important to families trying to get back to work and to our economy as a whole,” said DHS Deputy Director for Children and Families Keesa Smith. “This funding will help address the safety and economic issues for child care that have arisen as a result of this pandemic, and the enhanced safety procedures will help assure parents that we at DHS are committed to protecting children.”

The DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) issued additional pandemic procedures to licensed child care providers today aimed at stopping the spread. The guidance follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arkansas Department of Health recommendations and requires screening for all individuals (staff, children, and families) entering a facility and prior to transporting; limiting group size to 10 or less, including staff and children; requiring staff to wear masks; serving individual rather than family style meals, and more frequent handwashing and sanitation.  

These precautions are in addition to regular licensing requirements related to infectious disease. 

DCCECE also outlined how federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding of over $41 million in Child Care Development Block Grant funds will be used to:

Support licensed providers so they can remain open or re-open as appropriate through continued supplemental voucher payments through August, to coincide with school start dates. -- Estimated $15 million.

Help licensed child care providers cover costs of cleaning and sanitizing facilities to ensure safety and meet required pandemic protocols. – Estimated $8 million

Provide short-term child care assistance to essential workers. Federal requirements made it clear that essential workers should be able to access this support regardless of income (as funds allow). The funds would be payments to a qualified child care provider that accepts vouchers – not to the workers themselves. – Estimated $18 million

“Child care and early childhood programs in Arkansas are committed to doing everything they can to support families and keep children safe as evidenced by their willingness to remain open during this difficult time,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “DHS is excited to support those efforts and to ensure funding is available for those essential workers who need it.”

DCCECE licenses about 2,000 child care centers in Arkansas. Of those, more than half have remained open during the public health emergency. 

 

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Date Posted: 04/24/2020

Crittenden County Office Closing until at Least April 28 for Cleaning

For Immediate Release:

April 24, 2020

Media Contacts:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Crittenden County Office Closing until at Least April 28 for Cleaning

Mobile office will be available in the parking lot for those who need in-person assistance.

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) ---  The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is closing its Crittenden County office until Tuesday, April 28, so that the office can be deep cleaned following positive COVID tests for three office employees.

Clients who need to apply for assistance are encouraged to apply online at www.Access.Arkansas.gov or apply by phone at 1-855-372-1084. If they need to return requested paperwork, they can do so by emailing 181Crittenden@arkansas.gov.

For those who need to see someone in person, two mobile offices will be set up in the parking lot of the Crittenden County Office at 401 South College Boulevard in West Memphis starting Monday at 8 a.m. Social distancing will be enforced for those showing up in person. 

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Date Posted: 04/21/2020

Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services Seeks Comments on State Plan for Arkansas Senior Community Service Program

 

For Immediate Release:

 

April 21, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services Seeks Comments
on State Plan for Arkansas Senior Community Service Program

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) is seeking input on the State of Arkansas Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) State Plan 2020-2023. The State Plan can be viewed on the DHS website here.

The 2020-2023 SCSEP State Plan brings together information provided by DAABHS, Arkansas's SCSEP sub-recipient, and the SCSEP national grantees operating SCSEP in Arkansas. The plan will assist in furthering the long-term, strategic view of SCSEP activities and the program’s goals of enhancing employment opportunities for older Americans and promoting older workers as a solution for businesses seeking a trained, qualified, and reliable workforce.

Comments on the plan can be sent by e-mail, U.S. Postal Service, or hand delivery.  Comments must be received by close of business on May 22, 2020. Please send your comments to Ronda Gilbert-Hines using the contact information below.

Ronda Gilbert-Hines
Program Administrator
Older Americans Act
Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services
Arkansas Department of  Human Services
P.O. Box 1437, Slot W-241
Little Rock, AR  72203-1437
Phone: 501-320-6573

ronda.gilbert-hines@dhs.arkansas.gov

Date Posted: 04/20/2020

Clients Seeking Replacement Food Benefits Don’t Have to Wait in Line to Return Forms

For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Clients Seeking Replacement Food Benefits Don’t Have to Wait in Line to Return Forms

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) clients affected by severe weather, outages can return forms to drop-off box or by email.

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- SNAP clients who lost food because of power outages from this month’s severe weather do not have to wait in line at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) local county office to submit a request for replacement benefits. Clients also do not have to meet with a case worker to request replacement SNAP.

To request SNAP replacement benefits, clients just need to fill out the Declaration of Food Loss form and return it to DHS. All DHS county offices have drop boxes available so that clients do not have to wait in line. Clients also can fill out the form digitally and email it to their county office. A list of county office email addresses is available here.

“Using the drop-off boxes and email addresses will help prevent large groups from gathering inside DHS lobbies or in lines outside the offices as DHS continues to follow Arkansas Department of Health guidance to limit group gatherings during the covid-19 public health emergency. This will help protect everyone’s health and safety while getting clients the benefits they need,” said Mary Franklin, Director of the DHS Division of County Operations.

Clients need to return the form to DHS within 10 days of the power outage. That 10-day time period starts once a client’s power is restored.

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Date Posted: 04/15/2020

DHS Amends Contract with Rite of Passage to Manage Juvenile Treatment Centers

For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2020

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Amends Contract with Rite of Passage to Manage Juvenile Treatment Centers

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) has amended its current contract with Rite of Passage (ROP) so that the company will now manage all state juvenile treatment centers in Arkansas.

ROP has had a contract to handle the day-to-day management of the state’s Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Saline County since August 2016. The other four facilities in Lewisville, Mansfield, Dermott, and Harrisburg are overseen by Youth Opportunities Investments (YOI). In mid-February, YOI notified DYS that it would not continue with its oversight of those facilities after June 30 due to financial concerns. As a result, DHS presented an amendment to ROP’s contract to the State Legislature today.

The amendment allows ROP to take on the day-to-day management of the treatment centers in Dermott, Mansfield, and Harrisburg. With the center in Saline County, there are 230 residential beds and 20 assessment beds available across all these centers. ROP may use the Lewisville campus to operate a substance abuse treatment program, if funding is available.

ROP will immediately begin working with YOI to transition the centers to new management, with the official takeover date of July 1. 

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Date Posted: 04/09/2020

DHS Working with Health Department Following Positive Cases at State Hospital

For Immediate Release

April 9, 2020

 

Media Contact:

Amy Webb
Amy.Webb@dhs.arkansas.gov
501-837-8199 

 

DHS Working with Health Department Following Positive Cases at State Hospital


The Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) are working closely in response to seven patients testing positive for COVID-19, according to test results provided today. The patients are isolated in individual patient rooms.

The first patient began running a fever and having symptoms on Tuesday, was tested and isolated, and a positive test result was received Wednesday evening. The other 9 patients in that unit and 10 employees were tested Wednesday night. Test results received this afternoon confirmed that six additional patients are positive for the virus and one test is still pending. All 10 employees were negative. Additional staff who had contact with the patients are being notified and tested. Families of the patients who tested positive are being notified. 

No visitors have been allowed at the 224-bed facility since March 12, and employees undergo screening, including fever checks, as they enter the hospital for their shifts each day. Those precautions remain in place. The Health Department will take the lead on the investigation. 

ASH will follow all directives and guidelines from the Heath Department to protect the health and safety of all patients and staff of the hospital. 

Due to patient privacy, no additional information can be shared about the patients. 

Date Posted: 03/31/2020

Additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits Being Paid in Response to COVID-19

For Immediate Release:

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits Being Paid in Response to COVID-19

Supplemental SNAP benefits delivered for March; April benefits on regular schedule with staggered supplemental benefits

 

In response to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and with the passage of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is distributing supplemental food assistance benefits through the SNAP program to assist Arkansans during this public health emergency.

The federal legislation authorized states to issue supplemental benefits to current SNAP households up to the maximum amount allowed for each household size. The supplemental benefit for March was automatically loaded to SNAP clients’ Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards March 30. Any Arkansas households that are approved for SNAP through the end of March will also get the supplemental benefit for this month. 

If a SNAP household was already receiving the maximum amount of benefits for its household size, that household will not get a supplemental payment.

Clients will get April SNAP benefits on the regular monthly schedule. However, supplemental benefits for April will be loaded to EBT cards on a staggered schedule. The schedule is based on the last digit of the Social Security number (SSN) of the person listed on the SNAP case for the household. That schedule is below:

April 15th – SSN 0-3

April 20th – SSN 4-6

April 25th – SSN 7-9

If someone needs to apply for SNAP benefits, they can do so online at www.access.arkansas.gov or by phone at 1-855-372-1084. County offices have installed drop boxes at each local county office where clients also can drop off paper applications.

DHS is following public health officials’ guidance to limit close contact (social distancing) and keep groups of individuals in buildings to fewer than 10 at a time. That does mean that local county offices must limit the number of people waiting in DHS lobbies and may result in longer wait times for clients coming into county offices.

Where possible, we encourage clients to use online, phone, and drop-off options to apply for services.
 

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Date Posted: 03/31/2020

DHS Clients Needing to Drop Off Documents Have Options to Limit Contact with Others

For Immediate Release:

March 31, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Clients Needing to Drop Off Documents Have Options to Limit Contact with Others

 

To protect the health and safety of clients and staff during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is allowing clients to email documents to their local county office or drop off documents in boxes in the lobbies.

Clients applying for Medicaid, ARKids, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Temporary Employee Assistance (TEA) or those asked to provide additional documentation can find the email address for their local county office here.

It’s important that clients do not email multiple county email addresses because it will take us much longer to process the information. They also should include the word “sensitive” in the subject line to protect their private information. Clients can scan in documents or take a photo of them with their phones and email those in. As soon as possible, DHS will provide a receipt by email showing the department received the documents

“The more clients who can access our services remotely, the safer everybody will be,” said Mary Franklin, Director of the DHS Division of County Operations. “Our offices are open, but we’re trying to greatly limit the number of people who need to come in as we deal with this public health emergency.”

Following the directive issued by the Arkansas Department of Health, DHS also is practicing social distancing inside its county offices, including in the lobbies. As a result, only 10 or fewer people can be in the lobby at any given time. It may take longer than usual to be able to apply in person.

To avoid lines like the ones that have been seen this week at some of DHS’s larger offices, Medicaid, SNAP, or TEA applicants are asked to apply online at www.Access.Arkansas.gov or by phone at 1-855-372-1084. 
 

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Date Posted: 03/25/2020

DHS Encouraging People to Apply Online for Services Rather than in Person

For Immediate Release:

March 25, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Encouraging People to Apply Online for Services Rather than in Person

Number of people in lobbies will be limited to protect client health

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Arkansans applying for Medicaid, food assistance, and other programs are encouraged to do so online or by phone rather than in-person during this public health emergency. People applying in-person may experience longer than usual wait times because the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is limiting the number of people in office lobbies at one time.

DHS also is requesting federal approval to change some of its processes to reduce the need for in-person contact.

“Our offices are open because people need the services we provide, but we want to do our part in flattening the curve of this virus,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “We’ve worked quickly to implement a number of strategies that will help with that. We want to do everything we can to keep people safe.”

Gillespie said that many people are still showing up to apply for benefits in-person, and that it is important that they know they have other options.

Strategies DHS is using to flatten the curve while still providing critical services include:

Note for TV Stations: B roll of county offices can be found here.

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Date Posted: 03/23/2020

DHS Assures Medicaid Providers of Continued Claims Processing, Encourages Medicaid Providers to File Claims Electronically

For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Assures Medicaid Providers of Continued Claims Processing, Encourages Medicaid Providers to File Claims Electronically

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) continues its commitment to ensuring DHS clients get the health care services that they need and that payments are processed to providers in a timely manner. The agency assures its providers that despite the public health emergency, prior authorizations are being processed, and claims and invoices are being processed and paid.

DHS encourages Medicaid providers to submit electronic claims instead of paper claims, which allows the agency to process payments more quickly. Enrolled Medicaid providers can register for the online Medicaid Provider Portal to submit electronic claims by visiting: https://portal.mmis.arkansas.gov/armedicaid/provider/Home/ProviderEnrollment.

If providers have questions about registering, they may contact the Arkansas Medicaid Help Desk at 1-800-457-4454.

The agency is updating its providers as the situation evolves. DHS providers can visit the DHS website for important messages and policy guidance at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov. Providers with policy questions related to COVID-19 also may email provider@dhs.arkansas.gov.
 

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Date Posted: 03/11/2020

Governor Declares March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

For Immediate Release:
March 11, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DDSAwareness 2020

Governor Declares March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Job Shadowing Opportunities Offered by Local Businesses

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Individuals with developmental disabilities, local business owners, and state officials gathered this afternoon at the Arkansas State Capitol as Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed March 2020 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Arkansans with developmental disabilities were celebrated for their value in the state workforce and their communities, and local business owners were recognized for providing job shadowing opportunities.

“We want to help our clients with developmental disabilities to be independent and productive in their communities,” said Melissa Stone, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). “These are capable and dependable people, and we need more businesses in Arkansas to give people with developmental disabilities a chance to show their talents.” 

The employment rate of working-age Arkansans with disabilities was 31.3 percent in 2018, according to a report by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. The DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services have partnered to coordinate job shadowing opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. The opportunities will be offered by participating businesses throughout the month of March.

The following businesses will display window decals to show that they are participating community partners for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2020 supported employment initiative:

Supported employment for people with disabilities is an ongoing initiative. State agencies regularly partner through programs like the State Agency Model Employer (SAME) and the Employment First initiative to offer employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. The Blue Umbrella gift shop in the DHS central office in Little Rock also provides employment opportunities year-round for people with developmental disabilities.

For more information on the job shadowing opportunities available during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, visit humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/dd-awareness-month.

Photos and video from the Proclamation 

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Date Posted: 03/02/2020

DHS Announced Proposed Investments in and Restructuring of HDC Workforce

For Immediate Release:

March 3, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

DHS Announced Proposed Investments in and Restructuring of HDC Workforce*
 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has worked with state officials and legislators to developed a proposed restructuring of the pay scale and minimum requirements for direct care workers at its five Human Development Centers (HDCs) for the first time in 40 years.The changes would result in increased pay and professional certifications that match what is expected at private sector facilities, DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) Director Melissa Stone announced Monday.

“Today we are taking a big step forward with a proposal that will make the HDCs a more attractive and competitive place to work, reduce our turnover, and provide our clients with the stability in their caregivers that they deserve,” Stone said. “Families have made it clear that they want the choice of both home- and community-based care and care at HDCs, but we have struggled with attracting and keeping qualified caregivers at the centers. We hope these changes will go a long way to fix that.”

Hundreds of workers gathered in the gymnasium at the Conway Human Development Center for the announcement Monday cheered when they learned of the pay increases and new certification. 

The proposed changes include:

Additionally, the base pay for non-direct care staff making minimum wage (maintenance, laundry, food prep technicians, etc.) will increase to $11 an hour as part of the statewide minimum wage increase that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. These employees also will be offered an opportunity to enroll in CNA training at no charge to the employee.

The cost of the changes will be offset by cost savings that are the result of efficiency efforts by the division. 

* The original version of this press release did not make clear that the proposal has not yet been approved by the State Legislature.  

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Date Posted: 01/10/2020

DHS Seeks Senior Arkansans to Participate in 2020 Silver Haired Legislature

For Immediate Release:

Jan. 10, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Seeks Senior Arkansans to Participate in 2020 Silver Haired Legislature 

Session offers seniors opportunity to highlight issues important to senior Arkansans.

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) and the Arkansas Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are seeking Arkansans who are at least 60 years old to serve as delegates to the 22nd Biennial Silver Haired Legislative Session taking place Aug. 26-27.

Volunteer delegates will serve as legislators in this non-partisan session by writing, debating, and voting on bills addressing issues critical to aging Arkansans. A report of the concerns and bills written will be submitted to the State Legislature and could serve as the foundation for bills passed by the Legislature during the next regular session.

Organizers are seeking one delegate from each county in Arkansas. Anyone who is interested in becoming a delegate should contact the Area Agency on Aging in their county or DAABHS at the phone number below. County candidates are required to get at least 25 signatures on a qualifying petition, which they can get from the AAAs or at the web address below. The petition must be submited to their Area Agency on Aging by Feb. 14. Delegates will get training on topics such as the legislative process, how to write bills, and how a bill becomes a law.

The Silver Haired Legislative Session has been conducted biennially since its creation by a 1977 General Assembly resolution sponsored by Rep. B. G. Hendrix and the late Rep. W. F. “Bill” Foster. It is one of at least 28 such sessions held throughout the country to give senior citizens a chance to participate in the legislative process.

For more information, contact Ronda Gilbert at 501-320-6573, or your local Area Agency on Aging. You also may access information on the DAABHS website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/daabhs/shl-2020.

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Date Posted: 01/06/2020

DHS Bringing in New CFO Today

For Immediate Release:
Jan. 6, 2020

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Bringing in New CFO Today

Bradley has decades of experience in health care finance

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has hired Sara Bradley, who is a certified public accountant with decades of finance experience with large health systems, as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 

Bradley begins the role today and will oversee all finance operations for DHS, including Medicaid finance. She previously worked for nearly three years as the Market Vice President for Operational Finance for Catholic Health Initiatives St. Vincent Health Systems in Little Rock. 

“We are extremely excited to have Sara joining us,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “Not only does she have a wealth of financial, health care, and Medicaid finance knowledge, but she also has a heart for the mission of this agency and the willingness to serve her fellow Arkansans.”

Bradley will report directly to Secretary Gillespie. Prior to her role with the Little Rock-based health system, Bradley served in multiple high-level positions with Mercy Health System from 2010-2016 and Lutheran Healthcare from 2003-2009. In addition, during her time with Lutheran Healthcare in New York, Bradley was accountable for all financial reporting, accounting, accounts payable, and payroll for a network of entities, including a 400-bed hospital, a large division of community mental health centers, a managed care plan, a nursing home, and a nursing and home health agency. In her earlier career with Prison Health Services, Bradley also was the Director of Finance on a contract with Rikers Island. 

She is expected to complete her Master’s of Business Administration with a focus on health care management in February. 

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve the state I love and have lived in for many years,” Bradley said. “It’s an honor to be part of a team that works every day to care for and provide services to our most vulnerable citizens."

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Date Posted: 12/30/2019

Department of Human Services Announces Application Dates for 2020 Summer Food Program

For Immediate Release:

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Department of Human Services Announces Application Dates for 2020 Summer Food Program

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) is seeking non-profit organizations, schools, camps, and government agencies to apply to serve as summer feeding sites in Arkansas through the Summer Food Service Program.

“Our goal is to have summer feeding sites in every county because we know that it can be harder for students to get healthy meals when school is out,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “This program helps bridge that gap so that children don’t go hungry.”

Applications for the 2020 SFSP will be processed in two phases, beginning in January 2020. In phase one, schools and government sponsors can apply beginning Jan. 13, 2020. In phase wo, all other providers can apply beginning Feb. 17, 2020. The deadline to submit all applications is April 30, 2020. 

To qualify, applicants need to be financially viable, administratively capable, and accountable for their programs. They also need to be in an area where at least 50 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced school lunches. The application to apply can be found here.

The summer food program operates through DHS to provide food services to children from needy areas during periods when area schools are closed. Last year, however nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the eligible children in Arkansas did not receive meals through the program during. 

Almost every county in Arkansas has geographical areas defined by the most recent Census as 185 percent of the poverty level for children less than 19 years old. Approximately half of the counties in Arkansas (36 counties) are listed as having underserved areas as designated by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Youth ages 18 and younger, as well as people over 18 who are deemed either mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in a public or private non-profit school established for mentally or physically handicapped persons (as determined by the State educational agency or a local public educational agency), are eligible to receive meals at approved summer feeding sites.

Summer food providers may be a sponsoring organization of a public or private non-profit school food authority; a public or private non-profit college or university; a public or private non-profit residential summer camp; a unit of local, county, municipal, State, or Federal Government; or any other type of private non-profit organization. Sponsors must provide their tax-exempt status and must demonstrate the administrative and financial ability to manage a food service program effectively. Sponsors must provide a year-round public service to the area in which they intend to provide the food. 

Sponsors must be able to assume responsibility for the entire administration of the program. As a sponsor, an organization at a minimum will:

 Providers should call 501-682-8869 to get technical assistance submitting an application or visit https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/snp/SummerInfoM.aspx

To find sites across the state to help children and adults in need of free food, Arkansans can visit www.whyhunger.org, call 1-800-5HUNGRY, or text their ZIP code to 1-800-548-6479. 

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
 

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Date Posted: 12/05/2019

Erwin Receives National 2019 Adoption Excellence Award for Commitment to Arkansas’s Waiting Children & Teens

For Immediate Release:

Media Contacts:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Erwin Receives National 2019 Adoption Excellence Award for Commitment to Arkansas’s Waiting Children & Teens

 

Erwin Receives National 2019 Adoption Excellence Award for Commitment to Arkansas’s Waiting Children & Teens

Project Zero founder honored during National Adoption Month Event in Washington D.C. 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Christie Erwin, Executive Director of Little Rock-based Project Zero, an adoption excellence award for helping children in foster care find permanency through adoptive families. Erwin is a long-time supporter and valued partner of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which is committed to the vision that every child deserves a safe, stable, and strong family.

Arkansas DCFS staff nominated Erwin for the award.

The 2019 adoption excellence awardees were announced recently at an HHS ceremony as part of National Adoption Month in Washington, D.C. Vice President Mike Pence, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson and other leaders addressed adoption advocates, parents, and others in the field.

“We are extremely grateful to individuals for helping our youth achieve permanency through adoption,” HHS Assistant Secretary Johnson said during the ceremony. “Families and state and local child welfare agencies play an essential role in finding permanent connections for our youth and our agency would not be able to do this important work without you.”

The adoption excellence awards, given each year by the Children’s Bureau at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF), recognize individuals, families, and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in making contributions to providing permanency for children in foster care. Erwin was among just five people across the country to receive the individual award in 2019.

“Christie is committed to the vision that every child deserves a family and a safe, loving home. She is a tireless and passionate advocate for waiting children and teens, and she literally works every day to find the right families and bring hope to those who are waiting,” DCFS Director Mischa Martin said. “Arkansas is lucky to have amazing partners like Christie and Project Zero.”

Erwin started Project Zero with the goal of having zero children waiting for adoption in Arkansas. She uses a mix of matching events, short films, and a Heart Gallery that features portraits and biographies of all waiting children to pursue this goal. Her approach has increased the number of finalized adoptions in Arkansas, helping to set statewide records the last two years. Erwin has established many activities and programs that impact the lives of children waiting for adoption including a scholarship fund, birthday parties for waiting teens, as well as a Disney extravaganza and a Candyland Christmas event that bring together community partners and waiting children and teens from across the state. She not only gives hope to those waiting but also inspires people to do something to meet the need for more adoptive homes.

You can learn more about Project Zero and meet the children waiting to be adopted in Arkansas by clicking here. To learn about becoming an adoptive home, click here
 

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Date Posted: 11/21/2019

Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol Issues Alert About DNA, Genetic, and Cancer Screening Schemes

For Immediate Release:
Nov. 21, 2019

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol Issues Alert About DNA, Genetic, and Cancer Screening Schemes

Goal of scam is to get access to client Medicare information that could leave seniors facing bill for "free screening."

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol (AR SMP) is alerting older adults of a scam that is sweeping the nation and is on the rise in Arkansas where companies offer free DNA, genetic, or cancer testing in exchange for Medicare information. The goal of the scheme is to steal the Medicare number for medical identity theft.

The AR SMP, which empowers seniors to prevent Medicare fraud, has received reports from Medicare clients who have gotten solicitations from companies offering free tests referred to as cancer screening or test; DNA genetic testing or screening; pharmacogenomics-medication metabolization; and dementia screening or test (among others).

Seniors are contacted by testing company representatives in a variety of ways, including in person at community and senior citizens, at home through door-to-door solicitation, and through digital communications like phone, email and social media. Clients are told that Medicare will pay all costs for the screening, and they are asked for their Medicare number before they do the DNA cheek swabs. Medicare is billed for the services, which have not been deemed medically necessary and do not have an order for the testing from the client’s doctor. Medicare may deny these claims, leaving the client with the bill. Some clients reported gettng results showing “no cancer;” others reported never getting any test results.

The AR SMP has gotten several reports from Arkansans across the state targeted by this scheme, giving their Medicare information along with a DNA cheek swab. Some examples include:

Genetic testing fraud happens when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary or not ordered by a client’s treating physician. Genetic or DNA testing in a group setting is not routinely covered for Medicare clients. Because there is confusion about Medicare’s coverage for genetic tests for cancer and other conditions, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a fraud alert on the topic to help inform consumers. It advises the public to be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests a Medicare number. You can read the OIG alert here.  

If you are a senior-centered organization or community such as  a senior center, wellness center, senior housing community,  or independent senior living community, please help protect seniors from being targeted by scams through screening individuals or groups asking to speak or host a presentation or social event for your seniors. You should also remind seniors about the risks of giving personal information to solicitors and visitors and make sure you know the content and topics speakers intend to cover.

The AR SMP suggests the following to seniors:

Do not agree to a DNA genetic test (cheek swab) from someone you do not know. If it is medically necessary, it must be ordered by your personal physician.

Do not give personal information, and do not agree to receive a DNA testing kit, from someone who contacts you offering a “free kit.”

Refuse to give personal information, especially your Medicare number, to accept free screening services such as a cheek swab from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, or any other community event.

Always review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) for charges for questionable lab tests. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” as service codes may indicate questionable genetic testing.

Report incidents and solicitations to the AR SMP – 866-726-2916.

About AR SMP:
The AR SMP strives to empower Medicare recipients in the fight against healthcare fraud. The AR SMP provides information and educational presentations to: help PROTECT seniors from Medicare fraud and scams; educate on how to DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and urge seniors to REPORT suspicious activity and errors on Medicare Summary Notices – thereby helping to protect the integrity of the Medicare Trust Fund.

Kathleen Pursell is the AR SMP Project Director and has been with the AR SMP program 14 years. The AR SMP program is funded by a grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) (90MPPG0031) and administered through the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services. To learn more about the AR SMP, click here

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Date Posted: 11/13/2019

DHS Creating Department-wide Ombudsman

For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2019

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Creating Department-wide Ombudsman

Pederson to leave television post to stand up new office

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is creating a department ombudsman’s office to educate clients about their rights, help navigate the multi-division Department, and to work with the department to identify and resolve issues that need to be addressed.

Former KATV Consumer Affairs Reporter Jason Pederson has been hired to stand up and oversee the new office. Pederson also will work with DHS leadership to create a client Bill of Rights and materials to educate clients about their rights as well as outline where clients should go for information and answers to questions. 

“DHS has been working hard over the last few years to transform the department and many of its programs, but we don’t want to stop there – we want a culture of continuous improvement,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “Our next phase of work is focused on improving customer service, and an ombudsman is a natural part of those efforts.”

Pederson, Gillespie said, spent nearly 20 years fighting to ensure that Arkansas consumers are treated fairly. He and his team of volunteers took in thousands of complaints and worked to resolve them, even if they didn’t make it on the evening news.

“While our staff work very hard to meet the needs of our clients, we know people sometimes have issues that don’t get resolved as quickly as we'd like,” she said. “Jason can use those two decades of experience working directly with people who need help to serve our clients.”

Pederson, 49, began working as a broadcast journalist in El Dorado, Arkansas, in 1993 and moved to KATV in Little Rock two years later. In 1999, he took on the duties of Seven on Your Side, a platform from which he has fought for the rights of consumers.

“I look forward to serving Arkansans in this new role, to working with DHS staff to address issues, and to resolving issues in a fair way that helps the department improve processes and helps clients get the benefits they need and are eligible for,” Pederson said.

Pederson’s first day at DHS will be Nov. 18. 

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Date Posted: 11/04/2019

DHS to Re-align County Offices to Adjust to Client Populations, Online Applications

For Immediate Release:

Nov. 4, 2019

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS to Re-align County Offices to Adjust to Client Populations, Online Applications

Department will continue to have at least one county office in every county in Arkansas.

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to re-organize county offices and create a new business processing center in the Delta in the next 8 to 42 months to better fit the needs of clients and how they interact with the Department now and in the future. The resulting changes will reduce the number of county offices by four, end leases on two county office annexes, and upgrade, expand, or move five other offices to accommodate high client traffic flows or need for improved office conditions.

The changes announced Monday are the result of a several month review by DHS’s divisions of County Operations, Children and Family Services, Youth Services, Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Developmental Disabilities Services, Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services as well as the offices of the Secretary, Finance, Information Technology, and Procurement. The goal of the review was to ensure that the location of county offices matches where clients or potential clients are located.

“DHS remains committed to having at least one county office in every county, but it has been years since we looked at our footprint in the state to determine whether we have the right amount of staff in the right places to best serve our clients,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “We’ve taken a deep dive into the data and found locations where we should move staff and areas where we should make some re-investments.”

During the review, Department staff reviewed data that showed the state’s population broken down by county, where each of DHS’s 85 county offices is located, where potential clients live in relation to those offices, and where active clients live in relation to those offices. They found that some counties with more than one office had low client counts compared to similar counties with only one office. For example, Arkansas County, which has offices in DeWitt and Stuttgart, had about 6,700 clients last year. Sevier, Polk, Drew, Yell, and Sharp counties have similar client counts and serve them with one office each. Meanwhile, Washington County has a large client count but little room to expand to accommodate the growing client population.

The Department-wide team reviewed the data and recommended to Secretary Gillespie that the following changes be made in two phases. The first phase will begin some time after the new year with the goal of having all moves completed in either June or December 2020, depending on location. In all cases but one, the recommendations that Secretary Gillespie approved move staff to offices closest to most clients. The Booneville office was too small to accommodate additional staff, so the recommendation was to move to the Paris office. Below are the phase one changes:

The office moves are expected to reduce leasing and utility costs by $246,500 a year, some of which DHS plans to re-invest in the phase two projects outlined below. The detailed plans for implementing these changes along with the final costs will be available by the end of the phase one moves.

At this time, all the offices mentioned above remain open and available to clients. Clients in those areas will be notified in advance of the moves and where they need to go to seek assistance once the moves happen.

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Date Posted: 10/25/2019

DHS Names Employee of the Year, Seven Others Honored

For Immediate Release

Oct. 25, 2019

 

Media Contact:

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

DHS Names Employee of the Year, Seven Others Honored

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Arkansas Human Services Employee Association named Julie McLaughlin as employee of the year during a banquet DCO Director Mary Franklin, DHS Employee of the Year, Julie McLaughlin (middle), and DHS Secretary Cindy GillespieThursday night.

McLaughlin has spent the last 19 years at DHS and currently serves as a Program Eligibility Analyst for the White County office. She has trained countless fellow employees and has taken the lead for the DHS Division of County Operations on several key projects. One of McLaughlin’s co-workers described her as a person with a servant’s heart and a positive attitude. Today, the conference room in the office of the Secretary will be renamed for the year in McLaughlin’s honor.  

“Julie has been instrumental in developing new processes and trainings, mentoring her colleagues, and helping the agency navigate the implementation of large-scale IT projects, including the new eligibility system that we are developing,” said DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “When she sees a problem, she doesn’t sit idly by waiting for others to step up – she finds a way to fix it. She is a role model for all of us at DHS.”

Seven other employees were honored with Employee of the Year awards for each of their respective divisions and for the shared services offices collectively. Those winners are:

DHS is always looking to hire outstanding individuals like these. For more information on job openings at DHS or how you can start here and grow here, visit http://www.arkansas.gov/dhs/oas/jobs/

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Date Posted: 10/16/2019

DHS Shows Continued Progress Improving Child Welfare System

For Immediate Release:

Oct. 16, 2019

Media Contact:

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Shows Continued Progress Improving Child Welfare System

Goals and values align with new federal Family First legislation and continue focus on strengthening families,
improving foster care, and supporting the workforce

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has continued to make progress in the child welfare system aimed at strengthening families, improving foster care for those who need it, and better supporting its workforce; and is well-positioned to implement the new Family First Prevention Services Act, DCFS leadership announced Wednesday as it released its annual report on the system.

The new Family First Fits Us report is the fourth in a series of annual reports aimed releasing an honest look at the areas needing improvement, strengths, and work already done in the Arkansas child welfare system.

“We chose the name of this year's report – Family First Fits Us – because it is true. Our efforts over the last three years and our values are directly in line with this landmark piece of federal legislation,” said DCFS Director Mischa Martin. “It provides a roadmap and the support for us to continue to build upon the foundation DCFS has laid. The work will not be easy, but the effort to move from crisis to stability to progress is worth it because it is the right thing to do for children and families in Arkansas."

Some of the key data points over the past three years are below. All data is current as of August 2019.

- The number of children in foster care in Arkansas has dropped from 5,196 in late 2016 to 4,285 in August 2019, an 18 percent decline and the lowest it has been since the crisis response began.

- Children who are placed with relatives is up from 21.3 percent in 2016 to 30.3 percent.

- Children placed in family-like settings is up from 77.6 percent in 2016 to 86.9 percent.

- The ratio of foster home beds to children in care is up from 0.69 in 2016 to 0.79.

- The average caseload for a frontline worker is down from 28 cases in 2016 to 19 cases.

Three years ago, DCFS began an aggressive but strategic set of reforms designed to pull the Arkansas child welfare and foster care system out of a crisis—one defined by extraordinarily high numbers of children in care, unmanageable caseloads, and families, workers, and partners who felt unsupported and undervalued.

DHS pulled together every resource available—national child welfare experts, practically every division in DHS, the Governor’s Office, and key community stakeholders—to come up with a plan to move intentionally and methodically away from crisis and toward stability and strength. In November 2016, we released a report called Moving Beyond Crisis .  A year later, the number of children in foster care had stopped rising and fewer young children were staying in emergency shelters. Caseloads had declined and families felt more supported. These were encouraging steps forward, but significant work remained. So, in September 2017, we ushered in Phase Two of our efforts with the release of the Renewed Hope report.

Renewed Hope focused on three key areas of improvement: (1) strengthening families so that children can remain safely at home and families are more resilient; (2) improving the foster care system so that it is stable for those who need it; and (3) building, supporting, and empowering a strong workforce. Again, it was an ambitious but focused plan designed to lay the groundwork for positive and sustainable improvements.  In October 2018, we released Foundation for the Future as Phase Three of our reform efforts with a continued focus on the areas above because the core of a strong child welfare system are resilient and supported families and workers.

At the same time, states were beginning to get guidance about a landmark piece of federal legislation called the Family First Prevention Services Act. More commonly known as Family First, it is the first major federal child welfare reform effort in decades. The law includes reforms to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care. At the same time, the law stresses the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting to meet their needs when they do come into foster care. It emphasizes that every child deserves a safe, stable family every day.

“As we looked back at our reform efforts, we saw that our work in Arkansas mirrored the new requirements in the Family First legislation, “Martin said. “What could have been a daunting overhaul instead will be a continuation of the work we started three years ago. I appreciate how hard our staff, foster families, and partners have worked to get us to this point.”

All of the reports are available here under DCFS Reports.
 

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Date Posted: 10/08/2019

Two Teens Located and Taken into Custody Monday Night

For Immediate Release

Oct. 8, 2019
 


Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

 

Two Teens Located and Taken into Custody Monday Night
 

The Sebastian County Sheriff's Office and the Mansfield Police Department have found two youth who had walked away from the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center Monday evening.

Jayger Harmon, 17, and Conner Grist, 14, walked away at about 6 p.m. Both youth were found at about 10:30 p.m. in a wooded area south of the facility off of Johnnie Cake Road in Mansfield. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) is investigating the incident.

DYS is in the process of building and upgrading the fence at the Mansfield center. Most of the fence is built, but the youth walked through an area that  was still under construction and then scaled the old fence. Staff who saw the youths walk away did chase after the youth, but were unable to catch them.

Arkansas Code Annotated 9-28-215 requires DHS to notify the public of such incidents if the youth could have been charged as an adult at the time he or she was committed to DYS.

No additional information is available at this time.
 


-30-

Date Posted: 10/08/2019

Teens Walk Away from DYS Facility in Mansfield

For Immediate Release

Oct. 7, 2019
 


Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


NOTE: I AM  OUT OF TOWN WITH SPOTTY CELL SERVICE SO MAY NOT BE REACHABLE.


Teens Walk Away from DYS Facility in Mansfield
 

Law enforcement are searching for two youths committed to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center after the teens walked away from the center Monday evening.

Jayger Harmon, 17, and Conner Grist, 14, walked away at about 6 p.m. DYS is in the process of building and upgrading the fence at the Mansfield center. Most of the fence is built, but the youth walked through an area that  was still under construction and then scale the old fence. Jayger is a white male with brown hair, blue eyes, and stands 6 feet 4 inches tall. Conner is a white male with brown hair, brown eyes, and stands 5 feet 6 inches.

Staff who saw the youths walk away did chase after the youth, but were unable to catch them. Local law enforcement have been notified.

Arkansas Code Annotated 9-28-215 requires DHS to notify the public of such incidents if the youth could have been charged as an adult at the time he or she was committed to DYS. Anyone with information about the youth's whereabouts should contact local law enforcement.
 


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Date Posted: 10/03/2019

Update: Arkansas Department of Human Services Requesting Receivership for Additional Three Skilled Nursing Facilities

For Immediate Release:

Oct. 3, 2019

Media Contacts:

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Update: Arkansas Department of Human Services Requesting Receivership for Additional Three Skilled Nursing Facilities

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has filed requests to place three additional privately-owned nursing facilities into receivership to ensure the safety and health of the residents. The requests were filed in courts in the counties where these facilities are located. This action comes after surveyors from DHS’s Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA) Office of Long-term Care spent several days monitoring these facilities along with two others, all of which are owned by the same private owner.  The owner has agreed to DHS’s request for receivership.

The facilities DHS filed a request for receivership on October 3 are:

DHS filed requests for receivership on Monday, September 30 for the other two facilities it has been monitoring and are now responsible for those facilities.

Those facilities are:

Arlington Cove Healthcare in Trumann, which had 35 residents as of Friday, September 27
Deerview in Ola, which had 32 residents as of Friday, September 27

Office of Long-term Care surveyors have been on site at all five facilities since September 25 after the Office of Long-term Care learned of payroll issues occurring at Lexington Place on September 24.

“We are taking these steps to ensure the healthy and safety of the residents living at these facilities,” said DPSQA Director Jerry Sharum. “We will stay at these facilities until we can be assured residents are getting the services they need, and the staff is getting the necessary supplies needed to care for the residents.”

If the requests are approved by a judge, the State will temporarily run these facilities to make sure employees are paid, food is purchased, medications and treatments are administered, and the facility will continue to operate and offer the critical services that residents need.

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Date Posted: 09/30/2019

White to Serve as Chief of Legislative Affairs

For Immediate Release:
Sept. 30, 2019

Media Contacts:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

White to Serve as Chief of Legislative Affairs

Roles as DHS chief counsel, deputy director show long leadership history

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Cindy Gillespie has tapped Mark White to step in and serve as the agency’s next Chief of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs starting in October, DHS announced Monday.

White, 46, will replace Kelley Linck, who is leaving to work in the private sector on Oct. 4. Linck became the first Chief of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for DHS in June 2016 – a position created to ensure Legislators and other elected officials had a point of contact and someone who can quickly provide them with information needed for them to make decisions. Linck also oversaw the DHS constituent services and rules offices and served as Gillespie’s Chief of Staff. White will retain those roles.

“Because of his current and previous leadership roles at DHS, Mark will be able to hit the ground running, especially as it relates to complicated Medicaid programs,” Gillespie said. “He is incredibly smart, knows DHS well, and knows exactly who to call and what to do when Legislators need help. With Mark taking on this role, Legislators can rest assured their concerns will be addressed, and they will be informed about what’s happening at DHS.”

White has more than 15 years of experience in State government, several as a senior executive. He was named DHS chief counsel in March 2013 and was promoted to one of two Deputy Director positions at DHS in 2015. As Deputy Director, he oversaw over half of the department, including all the Medicaid, health, and community programs. He left DHS in September 2016 to serve as the Director of Legal Services for the nonprofit Arkansas Public School Resource Center. White re-joined DHS in February 2018 to serve as the Deputy Director of the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS).

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.

“I am excited and humbled by this opportunity to serve as the go-to person for Legislators for DHS because I know how important that role is,” White said. “I appreciate the path Kelley has created for me, and I’m ready to get to work.”

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Date Posted: 09/30/2019

Arkansas Department of Human Services Moving to Act as Receiver for Five Skilled Nursing Facilities

For Immediate Release:
Sept. 30, 2019

Media Contacts:

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Arkansas Department of Human Services Moving to Act as Receiver for Five Skilled Nursing Facilities

Safety of patients, lack of critical supplies and employee pay triggered receivership

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) today filed complaints to place two privately-owned skilled nursing facilities in receivership to ensure the health and safety of the residents. The owner has agreed to DHS’s request, which will be filed in the courts in the counties where the facilities are located. The legal action comes after several days of DHS’s Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA) Office of Long-term Care conducting enhanced monitoring of these facilities, as well as three other facilities owned by the same private owner that DHS continues to monitor.

Office of Long-Term Care surveyors have been on site at all five locations since September 25th and will continue to monitor all shifts at each facility every day until DHS is assured that operations are continuing, residents are being served, and the facilities are adequately staffed.

The two facilities for which DHS filed complaints are:

The three other facilities that DHS continues to monitor are:

“The health and safety of the residents is our top priority,” said DPSQA Director Jerry Sharum. “That’s why we already have a provider ready to step in and temporarily operate and stabilize this facility. That will ensure residents are safe and that the staff that has worked so hard during this difficult situation will be paid and have the supplies necessary to take care of their residents. I’ve been impressed by the staff caring for these residents during all this.”

The state of Arkansas, through DHS, has filed complaints with local circuit courts to take over the facilities on a temporary basis and is working with an Arkansas-based nursing home owner, who has agreed to temporarily step in and manage the day-to-day operations.  If approved by a judge, that means the State will make sure that employees at these facilities will get paid, food will be purchased, medications and treatments will be administered, and the facility will continue to operate and offer the critical services that residents need.

In May 2018 DHS filed complaints to serve as receiver at two facilities in Dierks and Hazen, following serious financial issues in Arkansas and across the country for the owner, Skyline. Those facilities were eventually sold.

DHS has been closely monitoring these facilities since September 25th upon the Office of Long-term Care learning about payroll issues occurring at Lexington Place on September 24th.

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Date Posted: 09/27/2019

Local Vendors and Artisans with Developmental Disabilities Take Part in the 4th Annual Fall Food & Craft Fair

For Immediate Release:
September 27, 2019

Media Contacts:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov



Local Vendors and Artisans with Developmental Disabilities Take Part in the 4th Annual Fall Food & Craft Fair

Event promotes community connections and employment opportunities for clients of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Artisans and vendors from around the state filled Main Street on Friday for the 4th annual Fall Food and Craft Fair sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). There were more than 20 vendors and eight food trucks on site for the fair.

All the items sold at the fair were made by DDS clients and included custom-made rugs, magnets, birdhouses, holiday wreaths, paintings, and soaps.
"I'm selling our canned goods, and I sold two of my paintings. It's good for us to get out and teach others," said Charles Nash, a resident of the Arkadelphia Human Development Center. "It lets others get to know us and lets us get to know them."
DDS provides funding for community- and facility-based services to thousands of Arkansans. The division also operates five residential HDCs in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro, and Warren, which are home to nearly 1,000 clients.
“This year's fair really took it up a notch. These artisans have a lot to offer this community," said DDS Director Melissa Stone. "People come out here and meet them, and they see what we're trying to support in terms of employment, making these clients feel like part of Little Rock and part of Arkansas, and getting them out and about more. People see the difference it makes, and they come back every year."

Clients from DDS’s Human Development Centers also competed in a holiday wreath contest. More than 20 wreaths were entered in the contest, with Jonesboro Human Development Center taking home first and second place.  A live DJ also offered a full soundtrack for the festival experience. The food trucks at the fair included Kool’s BBQ, Adobo, Juicy J, JMG Grilling, Haygood’s BBQ, GQ Smokehouse, and Loblolly Creamery.

Video footage and soundbytes from the fair can be downloaded here . The soundbytes feature (in order):

Photos from the event are below, and more photos are available on the DHS Facebook page.

Secretary Hurst awarded staff of the Jonesboro Human Development Center with a first place win in the wreath contest. Vernon Martin, a resident of the Conway Human Development Center, shows off canned goods from the center's garden.

Secretary Hurst awarded staff of the Jonesboro Human Development Center with a first place win in the wreath contest. Vernon Martin, a resident of the Conway Human Development Center, shows off canned goods from the center's garden.

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

Date Posted: 09/09/2019

Linck Leaving DHS in October

For Immediate Release:
Sept. 9, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Linck Leaving DHS in October

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Deparment of Human Services’ (DHS) first Chief of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Kelley Linck announced Monday that he will be leaving the Department in October for the private sector. He also served as the Chief of Staff for DHS.

“Kelley stepped in at a time when we needed to improve our relationship with and responsiveness to the Legislature, and I am eternally grateful for the time he’s spent here and his leadership. Through his office, we have worked hard to more quickly provide elected officials with the information and answers they need to do their jobs. We also now have a constituent services unit that promptly handles inquiries from legislators and others,” DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie said. "Kelley’s commitment to transparency and understanding of legislative processes; as well as  the importance of timely, accurate information to legislators, changed the way DHS interacted with the Arkansas General Assembly. Kelley has made a positive difference at DHS and will be sorely missed.”

Linck started at DHS in June 2016 after stepping down from his post as a State Representative from Flippin and as the chair of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. 

“I have loved serving the State with the people at DHS, and I will truly miss them and the mission of the Department,” Linck said. “But with the legislative session over, now is a good time for me to move on to the next chapter.”

Linck’s last day is Oct. 4. Gillespie said she has not yet selected his replacement.

###

Date Posted: 09/09/2019

Sharum Named Director of the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance

For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Sharum Named Director of the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance

Jerry Sharum the new Director of the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that DHS Deputy Counsel Jerry Sharum has been tapped to oversee the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA), which is responsible for certification, licensure, surveys, and inspections. 

"Jerry is extraordinarily smart and an extremely hard-worker who has shown that he can get the job done and get it done well," DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie said. "He knows DHS, understands policy, and is comfortable working with federal officials and stakeholders, all of which are incredibly important in this role."  

In addition to certification, licensure, surveys, and inspections, DPSQA handles provider training and education and promotes workforce development. 

Sharum has been serving as Deputy Counsel for DHS's Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) since 2016. Before that, he served the department as an appellate attorney who oversaw the attorneys handling child welfare and adult protective services as well as support staff and supervisors.

“DPSQA has a very knowledgeable staff that knows how to get the job done,” Sharum said. “I look forward to working with them and all the providers across the state.

Sharum starts as DPSQA Director on Sept. 9. He is replacing Craig Cloud, whose last day in the position was Friday. Cloud left for the private sector. 
 

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Date Posted: 08/08/2019

Teen Walks Away from DYS Facility in Harrisburg

For Immediate Release
Aug. 8, 2019


Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Teen Walks Away from DYS Facility in Harrisburg

Law enforcement are searching for a youth committed the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services Harrisburg Juvenile Treatment Center after the teen walked away from the center Wednesday night. 

Kashundra Davis, 15, walked out of her dorm and away from the campus at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Harrisburg facility is for low-risk youth, and does not have a fence surrounding it. Kashundra is a black female who is 63 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. Staff who saw the youth walk away did chase after her, but was unable to catch up to her. Local law enforcement have been notified. 

Arkansas Code Annotated 9-28-215 requires DHS to notify the public of such incidents if the youth could have been charged as an adult at the time he or she was committed to DYS. Anyone with information about the youth's whereabouts should contact local law enforcement. 
 

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Date Posted: 08/01/2019

Arkansas Medicaid Has Made Improvements to Provider Enrollment Process

For Immediate Release:

July 31, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Arkansas Medicaid Has Made Improvements to Provider Enrollment Process

New online portal enhancements and training materials will make process easier

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Medical Services (DMS) has strengthened the Medicaid provider enrollment process and has worked through a backlog of pending applications and renewals. The result is a more user-friendly process that should take less time for doctors, hospitals, and other Medicaid providers to complete. 

“We want the enrollment and revalidation process to be easy for providers, because we know that the more providers we have the better access our clients have to the care they need,” said DMS Director Janet Mann. “I appreciate all the feedback providers have given as well as their patience as we’ve made these changes.”

Improvements include:

Starting July 31, providers who go to the Provider Enrollment portal (https://portal.mmis.arkansas.gov/armedicaid/provider/Home/tabid/135/Default.aspx) to submit a revalidation application will encounter recent enhancements to the portal, including being able to view their revalidation, license, and certification expiration date information.

Providers whose revalidation dates are on or after November 1, 2019, will no longer have to complete a full enrollment application to revalidate, but will be prompted to complete a streamlined, pre-populated revalidation application form instead.

Due to the recent changes to the provider enrollment process, the Department extended the deadline for enrolled providers whose revalidation dates were on or before May 31, 2019, to revalidate their enrollment in the Arkansas Medicaid program to August 30, 2019. 

DHS has sent providers that need to revalidate their Medicaid enrollment at least three letters explaining the importance of revalidating and the deadline for submitting information. In addition, the agency has reached out to Arkansas associations that work on behalf of Medicaid providers, encouraging those organizations to share information about revalidation with their members.

As of July 24, 1,045 providers still had not submitted information needed to complete the revalidation process. If these providers fail to submit a revalidation  application by August 30, they will be disenrolled from the Arkansas Medicaid program. Once disenrolled, providers will not be able to bill Medicaid for services rendered until they submit a revalidation application and that application is reviewed and approved. 

Providers can go to https://portal.mmis.arkansas.gov/armedicaid/provider/Home/tabid/135/Default.aspx to log into the portal and check their revalidation deadlines or to submit a revalidation application online using the instructions below.  

Instructions for submitting application:

If providers have questions or need assistance with the online application, please contact the Arkansas Medicaid Provider Enrollment Office at (501) 376-2211 or in-state toll-free at 1-800-457-4454.

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Date Posted: 07/30/2019

Transformation Update: DYS Continues Facility Improvements, Cultural Shift

For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2019

Media Contacts:
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

Transformation Update: DYS Continues Facility Improvements, Cultural Shift 

Diversion program for at-risk youth moves under department as part of statewide effort

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- As part of ongoing efforts to transform the State’s juvenile justice system, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) has continued to make physical plant changes at its juvenile treatment centers and is upgrading its information technology system so that it can better track treatment and youth outcomes. 

The latest facility upgrades are at the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center, where contractors are actively working to improve the security fence surrounding the center. In some areas, new fencing is being erected, and all fencing, both new and existing, will be improved to include five feet of “no climb” mesh fencing. DYS Director Michael Crump said he expects the new fencing to resolve an ongoing issue of youth climbing the existing fence and walking away from the center. DYS also has begun work to modernize its information technology system, called RiteTrack, so that it has enhanced reporting capabilities. 

“We’re committed to doing the work necessary to enrich these centers and improve our operations, and the organization that is over the day-to-day management is committed, too,” Crump said. 

Youth Opportunities Investments (YOI) has committed to making changes to shift the culture of all four centers it manages for the State so that youth focus on their treatment and gaining new skills and education that will help them reintegrate into their home communities. Among the changes YOI has made are having the youth wear school uniforms rather than correctional-style clothing and introducing an incentive system designed to reduce bad behavior.  

YOI won the contract following a competitive bidding process to manage the juvenile treatment centers in Mansfield, Harrisburg, and Lewisville, as well as a facility for those ages 18-21 who remain in the juvenile justice system. The State’s fifth facility, the Arkansas Juvenile Treatment and Assessment Center near Alexander, is managed by Rite of Passage.

DYS closed the Colt Juvenile Treatment Center in January and the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center in July. These closures are part of a larger and ongoing effort announced late last year by DHS and the Governor to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families. 

As part of a larger, statewide transformation effort, the Governor moved the Civilian Student Training Program (CSTP) so that it is part of DYS. CSTP became part of the Department July 1, and Department leadership is already looking for ways to wrap other DHS services around these at-risk youth and their families. 
 

Images from the CSTP program are below:

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Date Posted: 07/12/2019

Arkansas Foster Parents of the Year Recognized

For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


 Arkansas Foster Parents of the Year Recognized

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) celebrated and honored its foster parents of the year on Friday at a banquet at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. 

As part of that celebration, the agency named Ashley and David Daniel of Rogers as its 2019 Statewide Foster Parents of the Year.

DCFS Director Mischa Martin said the Daniel family was selected primarily because they fully support the value that all kids deserve a safe, stable, and nurturing home every day and they work closely with the biological families of the children in their care.

“Ashley and David are amazing foster parents and pour all their energy into their children,” said Martin. “In addition to their commitment to helping safely return foster children to their families, the Daniels have made a name for themselves through their ability and willingness to be ambassadors and powerful voices for foster parenting.”

Ashley and David were humbled by the award but proud to accept it on behalf of the dozens of children and families that have touched their lives over the past four years they have been foster parents. “Our intent since we began fostering was to work alongside the biological parents and to support them in any way we could,” said Ashley. “That’s been our number one priority as a foster family…making sure they remember what they’re fighting for.”

David agreed, noting that they even re-introduced members of their adopted son’s family back into his life and theirs after the adoption. “It was important to him and it was important to us. The more people who love him, the better,” Ashley commented.

David added, “Sometimes, all these kids need is structure, support, and someone to say, ‘I’m here for you.’”

One winner from each area of the state as well as the overall winner were chosen by DHS/DCFS staff based on several criteria, including reunification efforts with biological families, partnership with the agency, support for other foster parents, and advocacy for the children in their care.

Area winners were:
1. Ashley and David Daniel (Rogers)
2. Krista and Chris Morland (Fort Smith)
3. Chrystal and Adam Baker (Alexander)
4. Jennifer Stuart (Magnolia)
5. Julie and Matt Rothacher (Vilonia)
6. Allison and Ted Bowsman (North Little Rock)
7. Nora Cooney (Lonoke)
8. Teri Ann and Stephen Bearden (Rector)
9. Adrienne and Tony French (Searcy)
10. Dorothy and Emmanuel Kiyumbi (Palestine)

To see video and B-roll from the event, click here.

DCFS is responsible for the safety of children in the state and has approximately 4,300 children in foster care, most of whom are placed in home settings with foster families. The state is divided into 10 service areas, and nominations for outstanding foster families were submitted from each area by caseworkers, other foster parents, and child advocates.

For more information about the foster care system in Arkansas or to begin the application process to become a foster family, visit FosterArkansas.org.

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Date Posted: 07/11/2019

DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance for Lincoln County

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance for Lincoln County
Eligible residents can apply between July 15 and July 19

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that eligible residents in Lincoln County can receive Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits.

D-SNAP is authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Services) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act because of the flooding that began May 21, 2019.

Any household in Lincoln County during the flood that began May 21 that suffered disaster-related losses may be eligible to receive D-SNAP assistance. D-SNAP extends benefits to many households that would not ordinarily qualify but suddenly need food assistance because of a disaster. D-SNAP benefits are provided on an electronic, debit-like card and can be used to buy food items at authorized retailers.

People from this county who experienced at least one of the following as a direct result of the flooding that began May 21, 2019, may be eligible: 

People seeking D-SNAP must apply in-person between Monday, July 15, through Friday, July 19. To receive D-SNAP, a person must have lived in the disaster area at the time of the flooding and must have suffered loss or damages described above.

D-SNAP applications will be accepted at the Lincoln County DHS Office located at 101 W. Wiley St, Star City, AR 71667 from 7 am to 6 pm.

To qualify for D-SNAP (disaster food benefits), you must have lived in an area impacted by the floods AND suffered flood related property damages.

The DHS Special Investigations Unit will perform random home visits on selected cases and the DHS Quality Assurance Unit will review each case that is approved for benefits.

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Date Posted: 07/01/2019

Transformation Update: YOI Operating Four Centers, Enhanced Contract Monitoring Begins

For Immediate Release:

July 1, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Transformation Update: YOI Operating Four Centers, Enhanced Contract Monitoring Begins

DYS making physical plant improvements at all four sites to modernize, better meet needs of youth.

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Today the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) transitioned four of its juvenile treatment centers back to a private company to oversee the day-to-day operations. At the same time, the state has begun a more robust contract monitoring program to ensure the new company is providing safe and high-quality treatment.

“These latest changes are helping us build a stronger foundation for our part of the juvenile justice system in Arkansas,” said DYS Director Michael Crump. “Part of these changes include doing everything we can to hold our new contractor accountable for how they treat our youth.”

Youth Opportunities Incorporated (YOI) won the contract following a competitive bidding process to manage the juvenile treatment centers in Mansfield, Harrisburg, and Lewisville, as well as a facility for those ages 18-21 who remain in the juvenile justice system. The State’s fifth facility, the Arkansas Juvenile Treatment and Assessment Center near Alexander, is managed by Rite of Passage.  

The contract monitoring safeguards include more defined performance indicators than historical contracts; increased interaction with the vendor during the onboarding process to help establish expectations earlier; and a new enhanced monitoring team. 

The team will make quarterly and annual visits to check on safety, welfare, quality of life, food service, education, programing, and physical plant issues.  Additionally, the team will be making ad hoc visits when the agency receives complaints, including through a new email complaint option. The email complaint option is DYSComplaints@dhs.arkansas.gov and also has been posted on the DHS website and is shared with families. 

The State also has been making improvements at the four facilities that YOI took over. At the Mansfield center, the State replaced locks as needed, renovated the bunk house for office space, and purchased new beds and other furniture for youth areas. In Lewisville, the State painted all the living spaces and remodeled the showers. At the 18-21 unit, all living spaces were repainted.

The most extensive renovations happened at the Harrisburg center, which was converted to an all-girl campus. The living quarters got new beds, paint, and bathroom renovations. A new walk-in freezer was installed, and a hair salon was added. 

The State also is investing more money in community programs for court-involved youth. Starting today, the 11 community programs are receiving an additional $750,000 in transformation funding. 

“These investments will give judges more options when it comes to the youth they see in their courts,” Crump said. “And as we continue to improve the system, we hope to provide more funding for community programs because we know its best when we can keep youth close to home.”

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Date Posted: 06/28/2019

Individuals with Disabilities Sell Their Produce at First Blue Umbrella Farmer’s Market

For Immediate Release:

June 28, 2019

Media Contact:

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Individuals with Disabilities Sell Their Produce at
First Blue Umbrella Farmer’s Market

Clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Department of Human Services (DHS) five Human Development Centers (HDC) took part in the first-ever Blue Umbrella Farmer's Market today. They set up booths outside the DHS central office in Little Rock to sell produce they grew and harvested.

“We want to give our clients employment opportunities that promote independence, and these farmer’s markets are a great way to support them,” said Melissa Stone, Director of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). “They made or grew everything for sale here today, and when people buy these products, our clients are paid for their hard work.”

Residents from the state’s five HDCs tend on-site gardens and learn important skills such as preparing soil, planting seeds, and tending the gardens until they harvest the produce. Some centers then process what they’ve grown and sell canned goods in the store year-round.

“It feels really great. I enjoyed it a lot,” says Caleb Ross, HDC resident. “I like it when people come to see what we’ve grown and buy it.”

Today’s farmer’s market was hosted by the Blue Umbrella, a unique gift shop open year-around inside the main DHS building. The shop offers supportive employment opportunities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. It is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sells items made by clients with the proceeds given to the individuals who made the items.

The Blue Umbrella plans to host two more Farmer's Markets later this summer. For more information on the store and future events, visit www.blueumbrellaar.org.

 Residents and staff from the five DHS Human Development Centers sell produce and handmade items at the first-ever Blue Umbrella Farmer’s Market outside DHS central office on June 28, 2019. 

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Date Posted: 06/27/2019

DHS Permanently Closes Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center on Thursday

For Immediate Release:
June 27, 2019

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Permanently Closes Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center on Thursday

Facility is second to close as part of Division of Youth Services transformation efforts this year

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) shuttered the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center in southeast Arkansas on Thursday as part of a plan to safely reduce the number of residential facilities it operates for court-involved youth. 

The facility, which includes seven buildings on approximately 90 acres, opened in 1999. DHS is exploring its options as it relates to selling or leasing the 32-bed secure facility. DYS had planned to close the facility by June 30, 2019.  

DYS closed the Colt Juvenile Treatment Center in January. These closures are part of a larger and ongoing effort announced late last year by DHS and the Governor to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families. 

“Closing the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center  at the same time we work to invest more funding in our community programs and expand access to less restrictive settings shows our commitment to making meaningful reform in the juvenile justice system,” said DYS Director Michael Crump. 

The State now runs five residential juvenile facilities.


To download video footage from the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center, please click here. 

Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center in southeast Arkansas

Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center in southeast Arkansas

Students move between buildings at the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center earlier this year.

Students move between buildings at the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center earlier this year.

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Date Posted: 06/21/2019

DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance for 12 Counties

For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2019
 

Media Contacts: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


DHS Announces Disaster Food Assistance for Arkansas, Conway, Crawford, Desha, Faulkner, Jefferson, Logan, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Yell Counties

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that eligible residents in Arkansas, Conway, Crawford, Desha, Faulkner, Jefferson, Logan, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Yell counties can receive Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits.

D-SNAP is authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Services) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act because of the flooding that began May 21, 2019.

Any household in one of these counties during the flood that began May 21 that suffered disaster-related losses may be eligible to receive D-SNAP assistance. D-SNAP extends benefits to many households that would not ordinarily qualify but suddenly need food assistance because of a disaster. D-SNAP benefits are provided on an electronic, debit-like card and can be used to buy food items at authorized retailers.

People from these counties who experienced at least one of the following as a direct result of the flooding that began May 21, 2019, may be eligible:

  • 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

People seeking D-SNAP must apply in-person between Monday, June 24, through Friday, June 28. To receive D-SNAP, a person must have lived in the disaster area at the time of the flooding and must have suffered loss or damages described above.

D-SNAP applications will be accepted at the following locations from 7 am to 6 pm:

  • Arkansas County DHS Office (Dewitt) located at 100 Court Square, Dewitt, AR 72042
  • Arkansas County DHS Office (Stuttgart) located at 203 South Leslie, Stuttgart, AR 72160
  • Conway County DHS Office located at #2 Bruce Street, Morrilton, AR.72110
  • Crawford County DHS Office located at 704 Cloverleaf Cir., Van Buren, AR.72956
  • Desha County DHS Office, located at 200 North First Street, Mcgehee, AR, 71654
  • Faulkner County DHS Office, located at 1000 East Siebenmorgen, Conway, AR 72033
  • Jefferson County DHS Office located at 1222 West 6th, Pine Bluff, AR 71611
  • Logan County (Paris) DHS Office located at #17 West McKeen, Paris, AR 72855
  • Logan County (Booneville) DHS Office located at 398 East 2nd, Booneville, AR 72927
  • Perry County DHS Office located at 213 Houston Avenue, Perryville, AR 72126
  • Pope County DHS Office located at 701 North Denver, Russellville, AR 72801
  • Pulaski Jacksonville County DHS Office located at 2636 West Main, Jacksonville, AR 72078
  • Pulaski North Little Rock County DHS Office located at 1900 East Washington Avenue, North Little Rock, AR 72119
  • Pulaski South County DHS Office located at 1105 MLK, Jr., Little Rock, AR 72203
  • Pulaski Southwest County DHS Office located at 6801 Baseline Rd, Little Rock, AR 72209
  • Sebastian County Ft. Smith Sears Bldg, 5111 Rodgers Ave, Ft. Smith, AR 72903
  • Yell County DHS Office located at 904 M Street/Highway 10 East, Danville, AR 72833

*If you cannot apply at one of the above locations you may apply at any DHS County Office.

The following zip codes have been identified as sustaining damage during the flood. If you live outside of one of these affected zip codes we will have a special unit available to assist with establishing your eligibility. Please notify our staff if you zip code is not listed below.

  • Pulaski: 72142, 72202, 72201, 72205, 72207, 72227, 72223, 72135, 72113, 72118, 72142, 72046
  • Sebastian: 79204, 72901, 72903, 72941,
  • Crawford: 72956, 72921, 72947
  • Franklin: 72947, 72949, 72930, 72821, 72820
  • Logan: 72930, 72855, 72863, 72851, 72835, 72949
  • Pope: 72847, 72,802, 72801, 72858, 72837, 72823, 72858, 72834
  • Yell: 72834
  • Conway: 72110, 72127,
  • Perry: 72070, 72016
  • Faulkner: 72034, 72106, 72032, 72113
  • Jefferson: 72132, 72046, 72152, 72004, 71602, 71601, 72004, 71644, 72160
  • Desha: 72328, 72166, 71666, 71630, 71674


To qualify for D-SNAP (disaster food benefits), you must have lived in an area impacted by the floods AND suffered flood related property damages.

The DHS Special Investigations Unit will perform random home visits on selected cases and the DHS Quality Assurance Unit will review each case that is approved for benefits.

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Date Posted: 05/31/2019

DHS Temporarily Closing Pulaski-East Office Due to Potential Flooding

DHS Temporarily Closing Pulaski-East Office Due to Potential Flooding

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is moving equipment and temporarily closing its office in eastern Pulaski County today due to potential flooding.

The office, located at 1424 East Second Street in Little Rock, backs up to the Arkansas River. According to the National Weather Service, the Arkansas River is expected to crest six feet above flood stage on June 5. At least one flooding model shows that water could get into the building. So DHS Deputy Director Dawn Stehle ordered all 50 staff to pack their phones, computers, electronic equipment, and other belongings Friday morning and move to empty DHS office space elsewhere in the county. Filing cabinets with client records also have been relocated temporarily. The office will be closed until further notice, and DHS staff is working to notify impacted clients of the closure. If you had an appointment scheduled with someone at that office and haven’t heard from DHS, please call the telephone number you already have for the caseworker or eligibility specialist to which you were assigned. If you aren’t sure who to call, please contact 501-682-9200.

If you are in Pulaski County and need to apply for assistance, you may do so online at www.Access.Arkansas.gov, or by going to one of the other offices in the county. All other DHS offices in Pulaski County remain open. The addresses of those offices are listed below.

Pulaski Jax

2636 West Main, Jacksonville, AR, 72078-9921

Pulaski North

1900 East Washington Avenue, North Little Rock, AR, 72119-5791

Pulaski South

1105 MLK, Jr., Little Rock, AR, 72203-2620

Pulaski SW

6801 Baseline Road, Little Rock, AR, 72219-8916

Photos below by Stephen Thornton, DHS

Photo 1: DHS Division of Children and Family Services staff work to plan new office space for their workers as all DHS staff move out of the Pulaski East office Friday morning in Little Rock.


Photo 2:  Mark Costa, left, and Patrick McCormack load up bins destined for SWLR as all DHS staff move out of the Pulaski East office Friday morning in Little Rock.

 

Date Posted: 05/24/2019

Four Juveniles Walk Away from Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center

For Immediate Release:
May 24, 2019

Media Contact:
Marci Manley
DHS Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Four Juveniles Walk Away from Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center

Law enforcement are searching for four youths committed to the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center who walked away from the facility Thursday at approximately 6 p.m., according to officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

Cameron Villa, 16, had been placed in custody of the DHS Division of Youth Services (DYS) for a felony offense. Villa is a Hispanic male, 5'8", 155 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair from Texarkana. The identity of the other youths cannot be released. Arkansas Code Annotated 9-28-215 requires DHS to notify the public of such incidents if the youth could have been charged as an adult at the time he or she was committed to DYS.

DYS will investigate the incident and take any necessary action. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the youths should contact local law enforcement.

image: Cameron Villa

Cameron Villa

Date Posted: 05/16/2019

DHS Renews Contract with USDA to Provide Meals at Arkansas State Hospital

For Immediate Release: 
May 16, 2019 

For More Information Contact:
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
501-320-6036
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

 

DHS Renews Contract with USDA to Provide Meals at Arkansas State Hospital

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark). --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) has renewed its contract with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue administering the Special Nutrition Program (SNP) lunch program for adolescents living at the Arkansas State Hospital in Little Rock.

As part of the contract, DAABHS is required to notify the media of its partnership with USDA. The division has participated in the program since 1999.

The SNP provides reimbursement for well-balanced, nutritious meals served to individuals enrolled in the Child Care Food Program (CACFP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Special Milk Program (SMP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

The program is available to public and private nonprofit organizations providing licensed or registered non-residential day care services. Such organizations include childcare centers, outside school hours care centers, and organizations providing day care services for children with disabilities and children with special health care needs.

In accordance with federal law and USDA policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Date Posted: 05/01/2019

Transformation Update: New Treatment Plan Process Kicks Off, Substance Abuse Beds Now Available

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2019

Media Contact: 
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.go

Transformation Update: New Treatment Plan Process Kicks Off,
Substance Abuse Beds Now Available

New leadership team overseeing changes, procurements in Division of Youth Services

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Starting today, youth committed to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) and their families will participate in a new approach to developing personalized treatment plans. These plans will be tailored to youths’ individual needs, with a focus on behavioral health, and will include an option for youth to get treatment in a group home specializing in substance misuse.

“Today marks a turning point for us because we are making good on our promise to create a more robust and personal treatment plan process for youth,” said DYS Director Michael Crump. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but these changes will provide a solid foundation for the work that comes next.”

Previously, youth who were committed to DYS custody met with a case coordinator, the after-care provider, and a probation officer to develop treatment plans with the youth’s family on the phone. Now, a team made up of an education specialist, a nurse, a behavioral health clinician, an independent living specialist, and a behavior modification specialist will meet with the youth and his or her family. During that meeting the team will review all assessments completed on a youth, and together they will develop a treatment plan specific to that youth.

If the youth’s only need is for substance abuse treatment, the Division now has a contract with Quapaw House, Inc., to provide eight substance abuse treatment beds in a group-home setting. Youth can go directly from assessment to this program. DYS also will create an all-girls residential facility at the Harrisburg Juvenile Treatment Center by the end of May so more personalized services can be offered to that population.

These changes are part of a larger and ongoing effort announced late last year by DHS and the Governor to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families.

As part of those efforts, the Division is undergoing a complete restructuring that places heightened focus on developing individualized treatment and services, holding contractors accountable, and ensuring judges have strong service options for diversion and aftercare treatment.

Under the new structure, Registered Nurse Cheryl Grappe is serving as the assistant director of treatment. She oversees admissions, treatment, and case management. Kara Benca will serve as assistant director over service delivery, compliance, and quality assurance; and Marq Golden will serve as the assistant director over diversion. The restructuring to create Benca’s and Golden’s units is ongoing and should be completed in the next three months. As part of the restructuring, all job duties within the Division are changing.

In addition to the restructuring, the Division has been actively working on several new procurements for services. These include:

  • Special one-year contracts for community-based services for youth with existing community-based providers with an effective date of July 1. These contracts will serve as a bridge contract until the agency can complete a review of community-based needs and issue a new request for proposals. Under the bridge contracts, all community-based providers would receive an increase in funding. These contracts still must be reviewed by the state Legislature.
  • An invitation to bid to provide medical services for all DYS residential facilities closes May 3, with an anticipated contract start date of July 1.
  • Work on a procurement for residential sex offender treatment, residential substance abuse treatment, and therapeutic group homes is ongoing.

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Date Posted: 04/30/2019

Arkansas Department of Human Services and PASSEs Respond to Feedback, Adjust Open Enrollment and Transition Period

For Immediate Release:

April 30, 2019
 

Media Contact: 

Amy Webb

Chief of Communications

Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 
Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications

Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Arkansas Department of Human Services and PASSEs Respond to Feedback, Adjust Open Enrollment and Transition Period 

Open enrollment now scheduled for October 2019

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Department of Human Services (DHS) is rescheduling open enrollment for the Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) program from May to October to give PASSEs more time to stabilize and grow their networks of providers. This also will give families more information before they need to decide which entities will best meet their needs. The open enrollment period for November has been canceled. 

This change, along with decisions by DHS and the three PASSEs to extend the transition period for client care plans and provider network rates, has been made in response to feedback from providers, families, and legislators. 

Open enrollment for the PASSE program will now run from Oct. 1-31, 2019, with an effective date of Dec. 1st. Between now and the open enrollment period, clients can ask to change PASSEs “for cause” by calling the PASSE Beneficiary Support line at 1-833-402-0672. Each for cause request will be reviewed by the office of the PASSE ombudsman. For cause reasons could include a desire to move all siblings or household members into the same PASSE or lack of access to providers experienced in dealing with clients’ care needs. 

All three PASSEs will extend the transition period for clients through Sept. 1, 2019. This means PASSEs will continue to pay for clients’ current plans of care as they are now, including current authorizations for services, through that date. During the coming months, PASSE care coordinators will meet with clients to create a person-centered service plans (PCSP). PASSEs must meet with clients before any changes can be made to a client’s PCSP.

“We want PASSE clients and providers to know that we have heard their concerns, and we think these changes will help as we work through the launch of this new program. Allowing the PASSE networks to expand before open enrollment will help clients make the best choice for themselves and their families,” said Paula Stone, DHS Deputy Director of the Division of Medical Services.

On March 1, 2019, the three PASSEs – Arkansas Total Care, Empower Healthcare Solutions, and Summit Community Care – began receiving monthly payments from DHS to manage the complete healthcare of their clients. In this new organized care model, Arkansas Medicaid providers such as primary care physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, and specialty providers can join PASSE networks, and the providers are reimbursed by the PASSEs for services provided to PASSE clients.

The PASSEs also will pay all Arkansas Medicaid providers at an “in-network rate” through September 1, 2019, even if a provider is not in a PASSE’s network. With the additional time for this transition period, DHS encourages providers to join PASSE networks to ensure consistent care for clients.

The PASSE is a model of organized care created by Act 775 of 2017 to manage the services of individuals with significant developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs. To form each PASSE, local Arkansas providers entered into partnerships and chose an experienced organization to perform administrative functions, such as claims processing. These three groups function similar to insurance companies to serve nearly 45,000 Medicaid-eligible individuals.

PASSEs are a Medicaid provider type approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They are regulated by the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) and held accountable to the Department of Human Services (DHS) under federal managed care rules.

For more information about the PASSE program, visit passe.arkansas.gov.

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Date Posted: 04/29/2019

Child Care Licensing & Accreditation Appeal Review Panel

April 29, 2019

 

Media Contact: 

Marci Manley

Deputy Chief Communications

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Amy Webb

Chief of Communications

amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Notice of Hearings

 

The Child Care Licensing & Accreditation Appeal Review Panel will meet on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at Donaghey Plaza South, Department of Human Services (DHS), Conference Room A, 700 S. Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72203.  The following hearings are scheduled at the times below:

9:30 AM          Appeal hearing for the revocation of a child care center license for the Candy’s Apples Learning Center   

                        Facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas
 

1:00 PM          Appeal hearing for the revocation of an out-of-school time facility license for Anderson’s Taekwondo

                        Center, Camp Positive, Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas   

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Date Posted: 04/12/2019

Arkansas Drug Take Back Day Coincides with Launch of nARcansas App

For Immediate Release
April 12, 2019

Media Contact: Matt Burks
matt.burks@asp.arkansas.gov

Arkansas Drug Take Back Day Coincides with Launch of nARcansas App

With the launch of the nARcansas app coinciding with the 17th Arkansas Drug Take Back Day, the theme is “I can. You can. We can. Save a life with Narcan!”

“The main goal of every project, every act we participate in is to save lives,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. “The amount of lives saved with the semi-annual Arkansas Drug Take Back Day is countless. The amount of lives Arkansas first responders have saved with naloxone kits – 234! That number can only increase with the nARcansas app available to the public.”

The nARcansas app is a free opioid overdose resource containing tools that will help you administer the drug naloxone in the moment of an opioid overdose and provide steps on how to save a person’s life in the event of an opioid overdose. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid-induced overdose. Though it should be used in an emergency situation only, Naloxone has no effect on non-opioid overdoses.

The Arkansas Drug Take Back Day will be 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27 and will include more than 250 locations across the state. Hundreds of volunteers and first responders will be at those locations encouraging citizens to dispose of unused or expired medications and officers will not ask for any identification or other questions regarding the prescriptions being dropped off.

The prescription medications will later be counted for statistical purposes and destroyed at a facility in an environmentally safe manner. Prescription medicines are a toxic waste & pose a danger to people, pets, & the environment if they are not disposed of properly. Medicines flushed or poured down the drain end up in the waterways, affecting our drinking water.

Throwing medications in the trash, even if they are mixed with materials such as kitty litter or coffee grounds, will still make it to a landfill and seep through the soil and into ground water. There’s also a danger of people and/or pets finding medications in the trash - The Animal Poison Control Center said 17.5% (34,888) of pet poisoning calls in 2017 were attributed to prescription medications.

In Arkansas, there were 379 drug overdose deaths in 2016, which increased to 411 drug overdose deaths in 2017. Arkansas ranks second in the nation for per capita opioid prescriptions, at 107 per 100 residents; the national average is 58.7 prescriptions per 100 persons. In nearly a decade (since 2000) deaths involving opioids has increased by 200% in the U.S.

Two-thirds of teenagers & young adults who report abuse of prescription medications say they get the majority of the medications from friends, family & acquaintances. Where do they get them? From our homes.  Ask yourself if your medications are easily accessible by other people? Are they in a bathroom medicine cabinet, a drawer, or lying out on the counter? Do you keep medicines by your living room chair? Are your medications at risk of being pilfered through if you leave the room, even for just a few minutes?

The nARcansas app was created in a partnership with the Office of Arkansas Drug Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services and Team Si. Naloxone is available for purchase by the public at some pharmacies throughout Arkansas.

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Date Posted: 04/03/2019

State Institutional System Board will meet on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at 12:30 p.m.

Notice of Meeting

 

 

 

The Arkansas Department of Human Services State Institutional System Board will meet on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. at the Arkansas State Hospital, 305 South Palm Street, Little Rock, AR  72205

An agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

 

Contact:

Amy Webb, Chief of Communications

(501) 682-8650

 

Date Posted: 04/03/2019

Volunteers to be Honored at 42nd Annual Arkansas Community Service Awards

For Immediate Release
April 3, 2019

Media Contact:

Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications
                                                            amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Volunteers to be Honored at 42nd Annual Arkansas Community Service Awards

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Four volunteers from across the state have been named recipients of the Arkansas Community Service Awards. The volunteers will be honored at a reception at the Governor’s Mansion on April 25, 2019.

Nancy Brisher, of Alma, is to be honored for her volunteer service with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Sebastian County and The CALL, where she volunteers as a juvenile advocate and developed a mentoring program to support young people who are aging out of foster care and entering young adulthood.

Kelsey Bell, of Little Rock, was chosen as the Young Professional Honoree for her service with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Arkansas Chapter. Her volunteer efforts have focused on bringing awareness to suicide prevention resources by leveraging social media campaigns to reach more people across the state.

Shelby Morrow, of Little Rock, is the National Service Honoree for her service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Our House.  As an AmeriCorps VISTA, she raised vital funds to support programming for families who were homeless and near homeless, while volunteering in her local neighborhood.

This year’s Youth Honoree is Sydney Dumond of DeWitt. She was nominated by Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas for her volunteer service which helped her community comply with 9-1-1 emergency services marking regulations, finding 353 homes and business that did not have clearly posted numbers and working with them to make sure they were up to code.

Since 1978, the Arkansas Community Service Awards have been presented each year to volunteers who have made a significant impact in their communities. The Awards are presented in partnership with KARK Channel 4, The Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism, VolunteerAR, the Governor’s Office, and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Communications and Community Engagement.

Award honorees are selected based on their outstanding volunteer service – for demonstrating conscientiousness and unselfishness that benefits the community at large and exemplifies the highest ideals of humanitarianism. Award recipients are nominated by the community and selected by The Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism. All candidates are judged according to specific nomination guidelines.

For information on nominating an outstanding volunteer for the 2020 Community Service Awards visit www.volunteerAR.org/Community-service-awards

 

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Date Posted: 03/21/2019

Businesses Offer Job Shadowing Opportunities to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

For Immediate Release:

March 21, 2019 

Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov


 

Businesses Offer Job Shadowing Opportunities to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – A dozen Arkansas businesses opened their doors to people with developmental disabilities today by providing job shadowing opportunities or holding open DDS Supported Employmenthouses. Earlier this month, Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and named March 21 as Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day. Employment Support Day encourages businesses to participate in expanding employment opportunities to Arkansans with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

More than a dozen individuals with developmental disabilities took part in the event by shadowing or touring one of the participating businesses. 

“We hope to start a culture, that people realize people that we ordinarily say have disabilities are really people with abilities. Everyone has some ability, and you never know how great a job they can do until you give them a shot,” said Fred Norman of Flavours in Maumelle. “If you put someone with an ability to work, they become tax paying citizens and they are so proud of being able to do that. The state is getting better and better at trying to find jobs for people with abilities, and I just hope more employers will jump right on in, cause the water’s fine!”

In 2017, only one out of every ten people with disabilities had a paid job in the community, according to the NCI Results from People Across Arkansas 2016-2017 report. Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day aims to lead to more employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in their communities across the state and introduce employers to those in their communities who are interested in exploring those opportunities.

“We have several businesses who have participated today, particularly in the Central Arkansas area, and we are excited to see this event get even bigger and better,” said Melissa Stone, Director of Developmental Disabilities Services. “Today is one piece of the effort we’ll be continuing throughout the year to promote Supported Employment opportunities so that more businesses understand and get to experience the value of hiring people with developmental disabilities and seeing the contributions they can make to their local businesses and communities.”

The businesses who participated today included:

  • Access Health Services
  • a'TEST
  • Flavours
  • Kroger – Morrilton location
  • ManPower
  • Primerica
  • Pinnacle Hearing
  • Taziki’s – Little Rock locations on Cantrell, Chenal, & Bass Pro Pkwy; North Little Rock & Conway locations
  • The Little Gym – Little Rock location
  • The Wonder Place
  • Think Coffee – Conway 
  • UAMS

Employment Support Day is sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), and other community partners.

State agencies regularly partner through programs like the State Agency Model Employer (SAME) and the Employment First initiative to offer employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

To find out more about Supported Employment for people with developmental disabilities through DHS, visit: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/supported-employment

For b-roll video and interview clips from Employment Support Day, click here:

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Date Posted: 04/08/2019

New Performance Center to Show Data DHS Uses to Manage its Operations

For Immediate Release

March 8, 2019

 

Media Contact: Amy Webb

DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement

Amy.Webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications

Marci.Manley@dhs.arkansas.gov 

 


New Performance Center to Show Data DHS Uses to Manage its Operations

Website part of agency effort to provide public more transparency and information about its work


(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) debuted a new website Friday that allows the public to see data that the agency uses to manage its internal operations – the first in a series of informational dashboards and reports that will be released regularly on the site in the months ahead.

“We’ve been working for about a year to build dashboards so that we can use the data to better track, understand, and manage work and workloads in several of our divisions,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “The dashboards tell us how we’re doing – whether we’re processing applications on time, for example, or initiating investigations when we should. Our focus is on improving our day-to-day operations, and dashboards give us visibility into our performance. That’s why we call the website our ‘performance center.’ The new site allows the public to look over our shoulders, if they wish, and monitor us as we work to improve.”

The data is uploaded daily so managers and employees have a real-time look into how the agency is performing.  To view the new performance center, go to www.humanservices.arkansas.gov and click on “performance center” on the top right of the homepage.

Initially the performance center will include data on:

- Child care licensing application processing, complaints, and monitoring visits

- The timeliness of initiating child maltreatment investigations

- The timeliness of opening and completing adult protective services cases

- The number of Freedom of Information Act requests DHS has received and how quickly they are fulfilled

- The number of appeal hearings requested and heard in dozens of DHS programs

DHS plans to continue publishing operational dashboards to the site as it completes development and the dashboard is actively being used to manage operations. The site will be a one-stop shop for regular reports DHS publishes and reports the agency is required to produce by either state or federal law.

To build the dashboards, the agency started by mapping out work processes from start to finish, including every decision point that needs to be made along the way. Once that is complete, DHS worked with its information technology contractor, Deloitte, to build and maintain the dashboards.

“These dashboards have really helped us as an agency map out plans to deal with serious issues, like backlogs," Gillespie said. "I’m excited that the public now has a chance to see the data.”

Date Posted: 03/07/2019

Transformation Update: New Division Structure Created; Leadership Team Announced

For Immediate Release:              

March 7, 2019



Media Contact: Amy Webb

DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement

Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications

Marci.Manley@dhsarkansas.gov 



  Transformation Update: New Division Structure Created; Leadership Team Announced


  LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) will undergo a restructuring as part of ongoing efforts to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families. DYS also has a new leadership team.

“Though much work remains to be done, the changes we’re announcing today are fundamental building blocks of a juvenile justice system that is focused on getting youth the services and supports they need to return home and be productive, successful members of society,” said DHS Deputy Director for Children and Families Keesa Smith. “Making sure we have strong leaders who are focused not only on residential treatment but also on what happens before and after a youth leaves those facilities is important, and our new structure will ensure that is a key part of our efforts moving forward.”

Interim DYS Director Michael Crump has been tapped to serve as the permanent director effective today. Crump is a former prosecutor who served as a criminal justice policy advisor to Governor Mike Huckabee. He has served as an attorney for DHS, an assistant director of Medicaid, and has overseen DHS’s fraud unit. He’s also been through Lean Six Sigma training.

“Michael is completely invested in the DYS transformation efforts because he knows it’s what is best for the youth we serve,” Smith said. “With his skills in management, policy, and process mapping, and his willingness to guide a culture change, he’s the right person to lead these efforts.”

DYS also hired Kimbla Newsom to serve as the DYS deputy director and to run day-to-day operations. Newsom has more than 20 years of experience working with at-risk youth and as a manager in juvenile justice systems in Maryland and Texas. Newsom started at DYS on March 4.

Crump and Newsom are working together to restructure DYS, which currently has assistant directors overseeing two units: residential programs and community-based programs. Under the new structure, DYS will focus more on high-quality treatment, diversion and aftercare, and holding DYS contractors accountable for meeting the State’s expectations for treatment, safety, and education. Assistant directors will oversee four units in the new structure:

- Case management, which will keep up with youth throughout their time in DYS care and ensure they are getting the services they need and are on track for on-time release.

- Treatment, which will be led by a Registered Nurse and will have expanded behavioral health clinicians, will oversee intake, development and implementation of treatment plans, placement, education, vocational and work needs, and aftercare services.

- Diversion, which will work with local courts and community officials to promote evidence-based prevention and early intervention services.

- Service Delivery, Compliance, and Quality Assurance, which will serve the oversight role in ensuring contractors comply with the terms and conditions of their agreements with DYS. This unit also makes sure that youth are safe and promotes quality youth outcomes.

The restructuring will be phased in over the next four months, with the case management and treatment units becoming effective May 1. The remaining units become effective July 1. As part of the restructuring, all jobs within the Division will change.

“This restructuring allows us to have more of a management-level focus on what matters – creating a safe system that emphasizes individualized treatment and services, holding contractors accountable, and ensuring judges have strong service options for diversion and aftercare treatment,” Crump said.


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Date Posted: 03/04/2019

Governor Declares March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

For Immediate Release:
March 4, 2019

Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Governor Declares March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Governor Declares March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Encourages More Employment Opportunities

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Individuals with developmental disabilities, advocates, and state officials gathered this morning as Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed March 2019 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Individuals with developmental disabilities who have been participating in the supported employment program with the Department of Human Services (DHS) were honored for their involvement the past year.

“Everybody has something to contribute, and as a State government, we want to encourage the hiring of those who might have some type of disability because everybody has a role that they can play.”

Governor Hutchinson also proclaimed March 21, 2019, as Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day to help encourage inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities in the workplace. In 2017, the employment rate of working-age Arkansans with disabilities was about 32 percent, according to a report by Cornell University. On March 21, businesses are encouraged to take part by opening their businesses to individuals with developmental disabilities.

“People with developmental disabilities have talents. They can be valuable and dependable employees. They want to contribute just like you and I do,” said DDS Director Melissa Stone. “We hope employers will participate and explore the opportunities our agency and partners have in connecting them with people in their communities who have developmental disabilities but who also want to contribute in the workplace.”

The goal of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day is to lead to more employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in their communities across the state. If any Arkansas business wants to participate,  contact Yvette Swift (Yvette.Swift@dhs.arkansas.gov) by March 11, 2019.

State agencies regularly partner through programs like the State Agency Model Employer (SAME) and the Employment First initiative to offer employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) along with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) and other state advocates will host opportunities throughout the month of March to celebrate and encourage Arkansans with developmental disabilities.

For more information on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/dd-awareness-month.

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Date Posted: 02/28/2019

DHS Moving to Help Defendants Access Needed Behavioral Health Services

For Immediate Release
Feb. 28, 2019

 


Media Contact: Amy Webb, 
DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov 


DHS Moving to Help Defendants Access Needed Behavioral Health Services

Push part of larger effort to improve the forensic system in Arkansas for criminal defendants

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) is launching a new process to connect criminal defendants with needed mental health and substance abuse services as part of a larger effort to improve the forensic system in Arkansas. 


Last year, DHS began analyzing the forensics system – the system for individuals for whom courts or attorneys request mental evaluations as part of a criminal proceeding –as it grappled with timely completion and filing of court-ordered evaluations. DHS identified three goals during its review of the system along with steps to quickly achieve those goals:


• Goal 1: Ensure defendants get needed behavioral health services throughout the legal process and, regardless of whether or not they were found mentally fit to proceed with a trial,
     o Create a new path for courts to refer a person for treatment without going through the forensic system or Arkansas       State Hospital. Today there is no simple way for this to happen.
     o Require treatment recommendations accompany all mental health evaluations, which will create a formal process         connecting defendants to treatment that does not exist today.
• Goal 2: Improve timeliness and quality of court-ordered forensic evaluations
     o Institute new rate structure for outpatient  evaluations  
     o Institute quality reviews prior to court submission
     o Map process and create new case milestones and deadlines
• Goal 3: Improve communications from DAABHS with courts and attorneys
     o Add legal team to work with courts and provide regular updates
     o Move to electronic records


The changes to meet these goals will be in place March 15. 


“One of the things we realized was that there was no formal process for ensuring that defendants who had identified behavioral health issues, such as a substance abuse problem, could get the help they needed unless they were found mentally unfit for trial,” said Deb Inman, DAAHBS forensics administrator. “But if we can address their issues, hopefully we can prevent them from coming back into the criminal court system.”

Date Posted: 02/19/2019

DHS Seeking Applicants to Serve as Summer Feeding Sites for Children and Teens

 

For Immediate Release

Feb. 19, 2019

 

Media Contact: Marci Manley,

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications

Marci.Manley@dhs.arkansas.gov


 

DHS Seeking Applicants to Serve as Summer Feeding Sites for Children and Teens
 

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) is seeking non-profit organizations, schools, camps, and government agencies to apply to serve as summer feeding sites in Arkansas. Applications are due April 30. 

“Our goal is to have sites in every county because we know that it can be harder for students to get healthy meals when school is out,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “Summer feeding sites help bridge that gap so that children don’t go hungry.”

To qualify, applicants need to be financially-viable, administratively capable, and accountable for their programs. They also need to be in an area where at least 50 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced school lunches. The application to apply can be found here.

Last year, 494 feeding sites in Arkansas served over 1.1 million meals and snacks.

 

 

Date Posted: 10/24/2018

Arkansas Works Enrollees Urged to Pay Overdue Insurance Premiums to Avoid Tax Intercept

For Immediate Release
Oct. 24, 2018


Media Contact: Amy Webb, 
DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Arkansas Works Enrollees Urged to Pay Overdue Insurance Premiums to Avoid Tax Intercept
Payments accepted through Nov. 22, then debt to be turned over to DFA

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) began mailing out letters today to Arkansas Works enrollees who did not pay their $13 monthly premiums for their health insurance in 2017. The letters encourage enrollees to pay the overdue premiums by Nov. 22.


If enrollees do not pay their premiums, their names along with the amount owe will be turned over to the State Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) for what is called a tax intercept. That means DFA will move to recoup the money owed through the enrollees’ State tax refund. 


Only Arkansas Works Enrollees who have an income between 100 to 138 percent of the federal poverty level are required by State law to pay a premium on the private health insurance they receive through the Arkansas Medicaid program. 


In 2017, 54,247 Arkansas Works enrollees failed to pay some or all of their monthly premiums for a total of $4.8 million due. The most an enrollee would owe for 2017 is $156. 


Enrollees who owe premium payments can mail those payments to the Arkansas Department of Human Services Office of Finance P.O. Box 81818 – Slot WG-2 Little Rock, AR 72203-8181. 

Date Posted: 02/12/2019

DHS Conducts Review, Signs Agreements with Three PASSEs

For Immediate Release:

February 12, 2019

Media Contact:
Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

PASSE representatives Jason Miller, with Summit Community Care, left, Nicole May, with Empower Healthcare Solutions, and John P. Ryan, with Arkansas Total Care, right, signed agreements today, February 12, 2019 with Paula Stone, deputy director of the DHS’s Division of Medical Services, standing.
PASSE representatives Jason Miller, with Summit Community Care, left, Nicole May, with Empower Healthcare Solutions, and John P. Ryan, with Arkansas Total Care, right, signed agreements today, February 12, 2019 with Paula Stone, deputy director of the DHS’s Division of Medical Services, standing.

DHS Conducts Review, Signs Agreements with Three PASSEs 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has signed agreements with three organizations to move to full implementation of the Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) program, DHS announced Tuesday.  

Arkansas Total Care, Empower Healthcare Solutions, and Summit Community Care have successfully passed their “readiness reviews” conducted by DHS. During the readiness reviews, each organization was required to demonstrate compliance with a series of critical functions including their ability to support their Medicaid members on a statewide basis and their ability to pay providers for services.  

DHS brought in an outside consultant, Tony Rogers, to assess the readiness of the three PASSEs and DHS to begin full operations on March 1, 2019.  Rogers is a nationally-known Medicaid managed care expert with over 30 years of healthcare executive management experience. Before becoming an independent consultant, he served as Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Center for Strategic Planning and as Arizona’s Medicaid Director. His specialties include Medicare and Medicaid managed care, health plan and systems operations, and health system redesign.  He has regulated health plans in the public sector and operated health plans in the private sector.       

“We congratulate the PASSEs on their success over the past year as they prepared for this day. Mr. Rogers came in and spent a considerable amount of time with us and at the PASSE locations with their staff. He identified a few areas for improvement, but the PASSEs and the State all passed readiness reviews,” said Paula Stone, Deputy Director of the Division of Medical Services. 

“We’re very confident in the PASSEs that are moving forward, and that confidence was boosted when we went on site to do the readiness reviews,” added Melissa Stone, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.  

The Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) is a model of organized care created by Act 775 of 2017 to manage the services of individuals with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs. To form each PASSE, local Arkansas providers entered into partnerships and chose an experienced organization to perform administrative functions, such as claims processing. The PASSEs have been coordinating the medical care of their members since February 2018. These three companies will provide all Medicaid covered services to cover approximately 43,000 Medicaid-eligible individuals.  Beginning March 1, they will receive a monthly payment from DHS for each member enrolled in the PASSE and become responsible for paying all medical bills on their behalf.  

PASSEs are a new Medicaid provider type approved by CMS. They are also regulated by AID and held accountable to DHS under federal managed care rules.  

For more information about the PASSE program, visit passe.arkansas.gov.  

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Date Posted: 02/07/2019

The Blue Umbrella Gift Shop Celebrates Opening to Public

For Immediate Release:

February 7, 2019

Media Contact:

Lainey Morrow
Medicaid Information Specialist
Lainey.morrow@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

he Blue Umbrella Gift Shop Celebrates Opening to Public

Dandra "D're" Clark, center, an artisan and resident at the Booneville Human Development Center, waves as he is introduced by Division of Developmental Disabilities Services Director Melissa Stone, right, during the grand opening of the Blue Umbrella.

The Blue Umbrella Gift Shop Celebrates Opening to Public

Provides a Supportive Employment Opportunity for Arkansans with Developmental Disabilities

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Blue Umbrella gift shop officially opened to the public today, offering a year-round supported employment opportunities to clients of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). The gift shop features handmade items created by Arkansans with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Store artisans and employees, providers, community partners, and DHS staff from around the state attended the grand opening ceremony at DHS to celebrate as the shop officially opened its doors to the public.

“I woke up smiling and excited because we were finally going to have the opening where the public can now come in and take part in this incredible community of artists that we have,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “I’m so proud of not just the team here but also our store manager and all of the artists who are clearly excited to be a part of this. We see what people can accomplish with their abilities. We don’t focus on their disabilities.”

The store will be open weekdays starting today, February 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the DHS Central Offices in downtown Little Rock at 700 S. Main Street. The store will accept cash, checks, and credit cards.

DDS Director Melissa Stone says the reason for the store is to help clients have a better life.

“One hundred percent of the crafts here are made by clients with disabilities. One hundred percent of the profits go directly back to them and the staff that work here who also have developmental disabilities,” Stone said.

Blue Umbrella’s inventory includes custom-made rugs, magnets, jewelry, birdhouses, wreaths, paintings and sculptures, candles, soaps, greeting cards, and more.

Chris Moore makes rugs at the Human Development Center in Booneville, and he’s excited to see his work sold in The Blue Umbrella.

“It feels good. The money goes in our account, and we can use that to go shopping,” Moore said.

DDS provides funding for community- and facility-based services to thousands of Arkansans. The division also operates five residential Human Development Centers statewide, which are home to nearly 1,000 clients. The division’s mission is to work with clients so that they can be as independent as possible and have a high quality of life, Stone said.

For more information about The Blue Umbrella, the artisans, and the inventory in the shop, visit its website at www.blueumbrellaar.org.

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Pictured above - Blue Umbrella store manager Mederick Davis, receives applause from the audience as he speaks during the grand opening of the store inside the Department of Human Services on February 7, 2019, in Little Rock.
Pictured above - Blue Umbrella store manager Mederick Davis, receives applause from the audience as he speaks during the grand opening of the store inside the Department of Human Services on February 7, 2019, in Little Rock.

 

Pictured above -  Guests shop for hand-crafted goods during the grand opening of the Blue Umbrella store inside the Department of Human Services on February 7, 2019, in Little Rock.
Pictured above -  Guests shop for hand-crafted goods during the grand opening of the Blue Umbrella store inside the Department of Human Services on February 7, 2019, in Little Rock.

 

Date Posted: 01/29/2019

Mann Returning to Serve as DMS Director, Harlan Shifting Roles

For Immediate Release

Jan. 29, 2019


Media Contact: Amy Webb,

DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement

Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


  Mann Returning to Serve as DMS Director, Harlan Shifting Roles



Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Medical Services (DMS) Director Tami Harlan has accepted an opportunity to serve in a different role in the department that better matches her skillset, the agency announced today. Former DHS Chief Financial Officer Janet Mann will step in as the new DMS Director.

Harlan, a licensed attorney, will serve as an assistant director for the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services over the Adult Protective Services unit. She became DMS Director in July 2018.  Mann, who currently works as Fiscal Director for Mississippi Department of Mental Health, will begin serving as DMS Director Feb. 11.

“Tami’s strengths are her legal background and Medicaid knowledge, both of which are important skills for the person over Adult Protective Services, a position that was recently vacated,” said DHS Deputy Director over Health and State Medicaid Director Dawn Stehle.  

Stehle said she appreciates Mann’s willingness to return to Arkansas in this new role.

“Janet’s Medicaid experience,” Stehle said, “especially in the areas of federal compliance, finance, and program implementation, will be invaluable.”

Mann served as the DHS Chief Financial Officer from November 2016 until November 2017, when she left the agency to work as Deputy Director for the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Mann is a former deputy administrator for the State of Mississippi Division of Medicaid under Governor Haley Barbour, helping oversee a $5 billion annual budget as well as other functions, including audit, program integrity, and health reform. She has more than a decade of experience in the public healthcare industry at the state and federal level as both an independent consultant and as part of the Navigant Healthcare team.

Mann, a certified public accountant, also served as the Chairman of the Mississippi State Board of Tax Appeals from 2010-2016. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Alabama. 

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Date Posted: 01/17/2019

DHS Transitioning to Second Lowest Bidder for Medicaid Transportation in 4 Regions

For Immediate Release

Jan. 17, 2019


Media Contact: Amy Webb

DHS Chief of Communications and Community Engagement

Amy.Webb@dhs.arkansas.gov



DHS Transitioning to Second Lowest Bidder for Medicaid Transportation in 4 Regions


The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) notified Medical Transportation Management (MTM) on Thursday that DHS is canceling its contracts for non-emergency medical transportation and day treatment transportation for Medicaid beneficiaries in four regions of the state effective Jan. 31. DHS will transition to the second-lowest bidder for those services as allowed by Arkansas state procurement law.

“MTM has not been able to consistently provide the level of services required in its contract,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “MTM has committed to making this transition as smooth as possible and to working with the new vendor.”

Southeastrans, which provides non-emergency medical transportation and day treatment transportation on separate contracts in a western region (Region D) of the state, was the second lowest bidder for the regions that MTM is serving (Regions A, B, C, and G). Southeastrans has agreed to begin providing transport for dialysis and other urgent appointments in those regions starting Saturday, Jan. 19. It will take over transportation for all beneficiaries and appointments, including day treatment, in those regions starting Feb. 1.

DHS will amend Southeastrans' existing contracts to include the additional regions.

Beneficiaries in these regions who need to schedule appointments can contact 1 (888) 822-6155. Beneficiaries with general questions or concerns about non-emergency transportation and day treatment transportation can call 

1 (888) 987-1200, option 2.

 

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Arkansas Map

Date Posted: 01/17/2019

Gov. Asa Hutchinson to Present Arkansas Volunteerism Commendation at the State Capitol

For Immediate Release

Jan. 17, 2019
 

Media Contact:
Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications

501-320-6036

Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson to Present Arkansas Volunteerism Commendation at the State Capitol 
 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will present a letter of commendation recognizing the 45thanniversary of the Office of Volunteer Action Programs (VAP) Tuesday, January 22, 9:30 a.m. at the Arkansas State Capitol.    

State Sen. Jane English and Rep. Fredrick Love will speak during the ceremony. English is an alumna of Vista while Love is an AmeriCorps alum. Both Vista and AmeriCorps are national service programs.         

“Gov. Hutchinson presenting Arkansas’s volunteers with an official letter of approval is a true honor,” said Shana Chaplin, Department of Human Services (DHS) deputy chief of the Office of Community Engagement.  “Sen. English and Rep. Love are outstanding and have lots of insight on Arkansas’s storied history of community service. The Community Engagement VolunteerAR team is eager to build upon that legacy of volunteerism by continuing to connect people in every region of the state to volunteer opportunities.”

In 1974, then Governor Dale Bumpers established VAP making Arkansas the first state to have a department that specialized in organizing community service opportunities. That department is under the DHS umbrella of the Office of Community Engagement VolunteerAR.          

Last year, nearly 700,000 Arkansans participated in a volunteer activity for a total of 72.9 million hours of service. Almost half the state’s residents donated at least $25 to a charitable cause in 2018, according to VolunteerAR data.

For more information about AmeriCorps, the VolunteerAR team, and volunteer opportunities in Arkansas go to https://www.volunteerar.org/.        

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Date Posted: 01/16/2019

Three PASSEs Sign, Move Forward in DHS PASSE Model

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2019 

Media Contact

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov 

Three PASSEs Sign, Move Forward in DHS PASSE Model

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) –  Three organizations have signed agreements and have chosen to move forward to the next phase of implementation in the Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) program, the Arkansas Department of Human Services announced Wednesday.

Arkansas Total Care, Empower Healthcare Solutions, and Summit Community Care have chosen to progress to Phase II while ForeverCare Health Plan has notified DHS that the organization has made a business decision not to move into Phase II. As a result, its clients will be reassigned.

Four PASSEs have been providing care coordination for clients since early 2018. ForeverCare will continue providing care coordination and assist in transitioning their approximately 7,600 members to the members' newly assigned PASSE.  ForeverCare members will be reassigned to a new PASSE and each member will be given a 90-day period in which they can choose a new PASSE. Those needing assistance may contact choice counselors at 1(833) 402-0672. On March 1, the three PASSEs will begin receiving monthly payments from DHS to manage the complete healthcare of their clients.

The Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) is a model of organized care created by Act 775 of 2017 to manage the services of individuals with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs. To form each PASSE, local Arkansas providers entered into partnerships and chose an experienced organization to perform administrative functions, such as claims processing. . These groups function similar to insurance companies. 
 
PASSEs are a Medicaid provider type approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They are regulated by the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) and held accountable to the Department of Human Services (DHS) under federal managed care rules.

For more information about the PASSE program, visit http://passe.arkansas.gov.


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Date Posted: 01/14/2019

SNAP MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release
Jan. 14, 2019
 

Media Contact:
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
501-320-6036
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

MEDIA ADVISORY
 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- Due to the partial federal government shutdown, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) will begin issuing February Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits to eligible SNAP participants early on January 17 in an effort to make sure funding is available. 

This is not an additional payment, so DHS is encouraging participants to budget accordingly for food purchases. Benefits will not be issued again until March, if funds are available from the federal government at that time. 

The attached flyer will be distributed at local DHS county offices and through DHS social media. A message will also be posted on the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) vendor website to alert SNAP participants. You also are encouraged to share the information with your reading and viewing audiences. 

As of Dec. 1, there were 151,283 Arkansas households participating in the SNAP program, which include 333,980 individuals. Roughly $40 million in SNAP assistance is distributed to eligible participants in Arkansas each month. 

Date Posted: 01/03/2019

DHS Receives $3.5 million Grant over Five Years to Help Young Children Who Experience Trauma

For Immediate Release:
January 3, 2019

Media Contact:Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications and Community Engagement
Amy.webb@DHS.arkansas.gov 

DHS Receives $3.5 million Grant over Five Years to Help Young Children Who Experience Trauma

Funding will go toward training staff, parents, others in early childhood settings

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children & Families that will be used to train staff, parents, and others working with children from birth to 5 years old who have experienced trauma. 

“Young children in Arkansas are experiencing trauma at an alarming rate, and it is critically important that we train early childhood staff and others to help children process and overcome these traumas,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “The early years are a crucial time in childhood development. The more we can to do help these children early in life, the more likely they will have improved outcomes in school and life.”

DCCECE will get the first round of funding for the five-year grant in 2019, and will use it to help streamline the work in Arkansas on “adverse childhood experiences,” which include abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction (alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, mental illness). According to results of the federally-funded National Survey of Children’s Health, 1 in 7 children in Arkansas experience three or more adverse childhood experiences compared to the national average of 1 in 10. 

Through the grant, DCCECE will work to educate individuals at the professional and community level on understanding trauma, including the long-term health outcomes of those who experience prolonged toxic stress. DCCECE also will engage others working in this space, collaborating with partners, and examining existing programs to ensure children have the best start in life. 

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Date Posted: 01/03/2019

Arkansas Department of Human Services State Institutional System Board Meeting

For Immediate Release
January 3, 2019

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

The Arkansas Department of Human Services State Institutional System Board will meet on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. at the Arkansas Health Center, 6701 Hwy. 67, Benton, AR  72015.

 

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Date Posted: 12/21/2018

DHS Association Provides Gifts to Adults in State Care

For Immediate Release
Dec. 21, 2018

Media Contact
Debbie Eddington, Assistant Superintendent
Jonesboro Human Development Center
Phone: 870-932-4043, ext. 144
Deborah.Eddington@dhs.arkansas.gov

Making a difference in Craighead County: Jonesboro Human Development Center Superintendent Steven Farmer (left) and Janice Griffin, Department of Human Services (DHS) administrator for the Craighead County office, hold one of the gift bags that DHS staff donated to the center.
Making a difference in Craighead County: Jonesboro Human Development Center Superintendent Steven Farmer (left) and Janice Griffin, Department of Human Services (DHS) administrator for the Craighead County office, hold one of the gift bags that DHS staff donated to the center.    

 

DHS Association Provides Gifts to Adults in State Care  

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Department of Human Services (DHS) County Administrator Association provided Christmas gifts to people who are under state guardianship, including 23 in Craighead County.

Janice Griffin, administrator for the Craighead County DHS office, worked diligently to collect funds needed to provide gifts for all public guardian clients in the county. Several area organizations sponsored gifts, including the Arkansas State Employees Association, the Craighead County Bar Association and a local Girl Scout troop. Gifts have been purchased and delivered.

The Jonesboro Human Development Center (JHDC) is a state agency which serves adults with disabilities and is located at 4701 Colony Drive, Jonesboro Arkansas 72404. 

For more information contact Debbie Eddington, JHDC assistant superintendent ext. 144 or Deborah.Eddington@dhs.arkansas.gov

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Date Posted: 12/17/2018

Local Man Who’s Blind Earns State Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

December 14, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Marci Manley

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications and Community Engagement

(501) 350-5380

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Duncan is honored by the Department of Human Services (DHS): Adren Duncan (middle) received the DHS Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) Statewide Consumer of the Year award Friday during the 2018 DSB State Meeting awards reception. Duncan is joined by a DSB staff member (left) and a representative from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (right).
Duncan is honored by the Department of Human Services (DHS): Adren Duncan (middle) received the DHS Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) Statewide Consumer of the Year award Friday during the 2018 DSB State Meeting awards reception. Duncan is joined by a DSB staff member (left) and a representative from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (right).  

Local Man Who’s Blind Earns State Achievement Award    

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -  Adren Duncan of Little Rock, who has been totally blind since birth, has been named the state’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Duncan, age 77, was selected for the achievement award because of his determination to overcome adversity, serve the community, and succeed at work.

He has been a Community and Social Services Specialist with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services for nine years. Prior to this, he had been a Social Worker since 1972.

Duncan has been active in the Lions Club service organization for 40 years and is a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. He and his wife Barbara have been married 40 years.

The award presentation was made December 14, after the DSB Board meeting at a reception honoring the nominees and their employers. Duncan’s employer, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, was recognized by DSB as the state’s outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Prior to his selection for the state award, Duncan was one of the recipients of area COY awards. Other area COY’s (with their employers who were named outstanding business partners) are: Lisa Towns of Fort Smith, Certified Nursing Assistant with PRN Medical Services; Lisa Earls of Batesville, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services; Sandra Dal Santo of New Edinburg, self-employed small business owner of Sew Peaceful Quilts; Blake Walker of Jonesboro, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor for Arkansas State University Disability Services; Maja Sevo of Fayetteville, Certified Music Teacher with the Springdale Public School System; Bich Nguyen of Conway, manicurist at City Nails; Sheree Fagan of Little Rock, Education and Instruction Analyst for the DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education; Jammy Vest of Weiner, Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver with Sanders, Inc.

The rest of the area COY’s and employers are: Aaron Alford of Harrison, teacher at Omaha Elementary School; Macie Coopwood of West Memphis, supervisor for the DHS Division of County Operations; Billy Langwell of Green Forest, Walmart associate; Salena Pruitt of DeQueen, Realtor with Century 21 All Points Realty of Texarkana; Brenda Thomas of Monette, traveling nurse with RTG Medical of Nebraska; Leetell Jenkins of Fountain Hill, Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver with Jonesville Trucking; John Handley of Pine Bluff, Machine Operator and Training Coordinator at Evergreen Packaging; William Trotter of Harrison, self-employed small business owner of Ozark Bear Arms; James Lancaster of Royal, Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver with Tenenbaum Recycling Group; and NeKemia Burse of Little Rock, Assistant Manager at Next Day Telecommunications.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711.

 

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Date Posted: 12/12/2018

DHS Expanding Phone Reporting, Outreach for Arkansas Works Enrollees

For Immediate Release
Dec. 12, 2018

Media Contact
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Expanding Phone Reporting, Outreach for Arkansas Works Enrollees

Beneficiaries needing to report activity by phone can do so 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. through DHS

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that starting Dec. 19 Arkansas Works enrollees who need to report their work and community engagement activities will have more options to do so by phone with the launch of a new DHS Helpline. 

That means Arkansas Works enrollees can report by phone by calling:

(1) The DHS Helpline at 1-855-372-1084 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week (as of Dec. 19)

(2) Their insurance carrier (BlueCross BlueShield, Ambetter, or QualChoice) weekdays during regular business hours (and some Saturdays, depending on time of year and carrier) at the numbers below:

                                                AmBetter: 1-877-617-0390
                                                Arkansas BlueCross BlueShield: 1-800-800-4298
                                                QualChoice: 1-866-838-9186

(3) A trusted friend or Registered Reporter, which is someone who has gone through an online training through DHS to better understand what and how to report. 

Enrollees also can report online at www.access.arkansas.gov and in-person at a DHS county office.

Enrollees also can call 1-855-372-1084 to get questions answered. In addition, staff working the helpline will start proactively reaching out to individuals who have logged some – but not enough – work and community engagement activities to meet the 80 hours a month requirement. Staff will encourage those enrollees to continue to report their hours and refer them to helpful services. 

“We are six months into this new Medicaid demonstration program, but wanted to take the time now to assess what areas we need to shore up or improve,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “Though enrollees have had the ability to report by phone through carriers, friends, and registered reporters, we felt it was important to expand that option before we roll the next group into the work and community engagement requirement.”

Though we have seen improvement in the percentage of current enrollees who are meeting the requirement, Gillespie said the State wants to see those percentages increase. So DHS also will be launching a paid advertising campaign aimed at ensuring enrollees know how to report their work and community engagement activities. The campaign will use both traditional and social media outlets, online sites, and local transportation organizations to reach enrollees. The agency also will be working with higher education institutions so that students know their school hours count as activities toward meeting the requirement. 

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Date Posted: 12/04/2018

Arkansas Department of Human Services Announces Leadership Change in Division of Youth Services

For Immediate Release
December 4, 2018
 

Media Contact
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

Arkansas Department of Human Services Announces Leadership Change in Division of Youth Services

Guhman to focus on supporting broader juvenile justice system reform effort, needed legislative changes

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) Director Betty Guhman announced today that she plans to step down from the director position to dedicate her energy to supporting broader juvenile justice reform and needed legislative changes ahead of the legislative session.  In light of the transformation efforts happening in DYS, DHS will conduct a nationwide search to replace Guhman.

Michael Crump, Director of the DHS Office of Compliance and Integrity, will serve as Interim DYS Director to ensure that the recently announced DYS transformation plan continues on track and as planned. 

“With the DYS transformation already underway, I want to use my remaining time at DHS to work with judges and the Reform Board to support efforts to reform the entire system,” Guhman said. “The State has been talking for years about transforming the system, and I think those changes are really happening.”

DHS Director Cindy Gillespie said Guhman told her earlier this year that she planned to retire by summer 2019. 

“I am grateful to Director Guhman for helping us begin the transformation efforts we have underway in DYS and her willingness to take on the role of supporting those legislative pieces that will be important to moving our juvenile justice system forward,” Gillespie said. “During her time as director, she has worked diligently to engage the families of youth in DYS facilities, recognizing that the majority of these juveniles will return home and that their families are critical for their successful reintegration into their communities. She even established division-wide family engagement weekends at DYS facilities to support that goal.”

Guhman will move to the DHS Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs during the legislative session, and her work will focus on supporting legislation proposed by the Juvenile Justice Reform Board and supported by Governor Asa Hutchinson in addition to work on DHS proposed legislation for DYS.

“I want to thank Michael Crump for his willingness to take the Interim Director position while the search for a new director is underway,” Gillespie said. “He is a proven, capable leader, and he recently oversaw transforming the integrity and fraud efforts inside DHS. I believe he will keep the DYS transformation efforts on track as we continue to reach the milestones we’ve had planned.”

Crump is an experienced supervisor who previously served as a juvenile prosecutor and an attorney for the DHS Office of Chief Counsel. He also has been responsible for both business operations and financials in the Division of Medical Services. He most recently coordinated and supervised the agency’s transformation around fraud and integrity efforts, including implementing an electronic case management and tracking system, creating an online integrity portal for employees, and improving processes to better meet state and federal guidelines.

Keesa Smith, DHS Deputy Director of Youth and Families, said the agency will immediately begin a nationwide search for a permanent DYS director, considering both in-state and out-of-state candidates. DHS intends to fill the position within the next few months.

“Given our ongoing transformation in DYS, we hope to not only find a candidate with a strong juvenile justice background but also someone who has experience in operations and using analytics to strengthen performance and measure outcomes as we continue to move through this process,” Smith said. 

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Date Posted: 12/03/2018

Williams-Stokes Named Director of Division of Services for the Blind

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2018

Media Contact
Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov
 

Williams-Stokes Named Director of Division of Services for the Blind

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Monday that Cassondra Williams-Stokes has been confirmed as Director of the Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). 

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the division and continue my work to ignite the passion and efforts of our staff to serve those Arkansans who are blind and visually impaired through the programs and services our agency offers,” Williams-Stokes said. 

The goal of the division is to offer supports and services to those Arkansans who have visual impairments so that they can achieve independence and make informed decisions about their lives. The division’s programs focus on assisting clients in find employment opportunities; providing rehabilitative education to help clients develop new skills; and supporting clients who seek operations to prevent blindness and restore their vision.

“Cassondra believes that partnerships and mentoring can change people’s lives, and she’s demonstrated that during her years with DHS,” said Keesa Smith, DHS Deputy Director for Youth and Families. “I know Cassondra will continue to advance the mission of the division in her role as director and look for innovative ways to connect people to the resources they need to live independently.”

Williams-Stokes had served as Interim Director of the division since August 2018, when the previous director retired after more than 20 years with the agency. Williams-Stokes served as Assistant Deputy Director of DSB beginning in January 2009, and she holds a doctorate degree in management. 

Williams-Stokes has worked for years to advance the interests of vulnerable Arkansans, including in her previous roles in the DHS Division of Youth Services and as the manager of an emergency shelter for domestic violence survivors and their children. She also served in the United States Army Reserve from 1989 to 2003.

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Date Posted: 11/30/2018

Williams to Join DHS Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

For Immediate Release

Nov. 30, 2018

Media Contact: 
Marci Manley
501-320-6036
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

 

Williams to Join DHS Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) --- The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Friday that former State Representative Jeff Williams would be joining the agency’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs as Deputy Chief of Legislative Affairs.

“Jeff brings a long history of public service to our agency, and his time as a leader in the military gave him experience in developing common goals, communicating with key stakeholders, and finding solutions,” said Kelley Linck, Chief of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. “We have a lot of transformations underway at DHS, including in the Division of Youth Services’ approach to juvenile justice and our ongoing efforts to serve families through our Division of Children and Family Services. Jeff’s passion and dedication to children and families make him a great fit for the DHS team.”

Williams was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in 2016 to represent District 89 in Northwest Arkansas. During his time in the legislature, he focused on improving the lives of children and families. Williams was the lead Arkansas House sponsor on a resolution encouraging the state to offer ARKids First state-sponsored health coverage to children who lawfully migrate to the United States from the Marshall Islands.

He spent more than 20 years in the United States Army, specializing in psychological operations. Those operations were geared toward building relationships and understanding the needs of domestic and international partners across the globe.

Williams submitted his letter of resignation on Friday, November 30. He is also dissolving his personal business to continue public service in this new role. 

His first day at DHS will be December 3. The Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs works with legislators and others to address constituent concerns or questions regarding DHS policies and programs. The office also works to coordinate with other state agencies, and it serves as the point of contact for the Bureau of Legislative Research.

 

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Date Posted: 11/15/2018

Governor Hutchinson Announces DHS Making Changes to Juvenile Justice System to Focus on Youth’s Treatment, Return Home

For Immediate Release:

Nov. 16, 2018

Media Contact

Marci Manley

Deputy Chief of Communications

Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Governor Hutchinson Announces DHS Making Changes to Juvenile Justice System to Focus on Youth’s Treatment, Return Home

State closing facility in Dermott and Colt as part of treatment improvement efforts

(Little Rock, Ark.) -- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a series of actions that will serve as the State’s initial steps to accelerate the transformation of the juvenile justice system and to better equip the system to meet the needs of youth in Division of Youth Services (DYS) care, their families, and the judicial system.

“Today marks a monumental step forward for our juvenile justice system because the State is taking real action to address long-standing concerns and to fundamentally shift so that youth get individualized quality treatment in the least restrictive setting and youth’s families and communities are ready to help them when they return home,” Hutchinson said. “The plan DHS has outlined will result in a transformation of how it delivers services to these juveniles with a rebalancing between residential placement, group homes, and community-based services, and a heightened focus on family and community reintegration.”

DHS has already started planning for the first phase of work to improve the system, with goals geared toward tailoring treatment plans for youth and engaging families for a youth’s return home.

“Most of the youth ordered to receive treatment from DYS were involved in non-violent offenses, and they will return to their homes and communities,” said Deputy Director Keesa Smith, who oversees all children and youth divisions. “With that in mind, Phase I efforts will focus on getting youth into treatment quickly, making sure youths’ treatment plans address their specific needs, and involving family and community partners from the beginning of the process and throughout treatment. The goal is to give everyone involved the tools to address the challenges that brought the youth to DYS so that young person can go on to live a productive adult life.”

 Initial action steps in Phase I include:

DYS Director Betty Guhman said that though the steps outlined in this plan will take time to implement, they are just the first of many more actions the state will take to modernize the juvenile justice system over the next several years.

“We are working with the Youth Justice Reform Board, the juvenile judges, and others to identify long-term changes and improvements that can make a meaningful difference for our youth and their families,” Smith said. “We’re excited about the steps we’re announcing today and what lies ahead.”

Links:

DYS Transformation FactSheet

DYS Transformation Presentation

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Date Posted: 11/14/2018

Community Invited to Tour New DHS Building,  Learn About Service Programs

For immediate release

November 12, 2018

Media Contact: Marci Manley

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications and Community Engagement

(501) 350-5380

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Community Invited to Tour New DHS Building, Learn About Service Programs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Department of Human Services (DHS) Polk County staff is now housed in a brand new office at 1802 Highway 71 North in Mena.

Staff will showcase the new facility during an open house on Friday, November 16, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

At the open house there will be several refreshments for visitors. Staff members will give tours of the office. Also, tables will be set up where people can learn about, or apply, for DHS programs.

“This open house is about the residents of Polk County. We as DHS are here to serve the people in this area,” said Carolyn Strickland, administrator of the Polk County office. “Yes, we want to show everyone our new building. But it’s important that our visitors also learn about the outstanding programs DHS offers.”

“We’re confident that once people tour this new office, and see how inviting it is, they’ll be willing to come see us when they need our help,” Strickland said. “It’s going to be a fun and informative event for everybody involved.”

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Date Posted: 10/30/2018

Counselor Who’s Blind Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Marci Manley

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications and Community Engagement

(501) 350-5380

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Coopwood is honored by the Department of Human Services (DHS): Johnny Moore, vocational rehabilitation counselor, presents a DHS Division of Services for the Blind achievement award to Macie Coopwood of West Memphis.
Coopwood is honored by the Department of Human Services (DHS): Johnny Moore, vocational rehabilitation counselor, presents a DHS Division of Services for the Blind achievement award to Macie Coopwood of West Memphis. 

Counselor Who’s Blind Earns Achievement Award  

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -   Macie Coopwood of West Memphis, who is blind, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

When Coopwood was selected for the honor, she was working for the DHS Division of County Operations (DCO) as a Program Eligibility Specialist. Recently, she was hired to work with youth as a Pre-Employment Transition Services Counselor with DSB.

Coopwood’s service extends beyond her job. She volunteers to mentor at risk youth through her church and oversees a church committee that feeds the homeless. As a member of the local chapter of the Arkansas State Employees Association, she assists in toy, food and clothes drives for the West Memphis area.

Johnny Moore, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, nominated her for the achievement award because of her determination to overcome adversity, serve others, and succeed at work. She was selected from Mississippi, Cross, Crittenden, and St. Francis Counties.

The award presentation was made at Coopwood’s workplace on October 26. Her employer, DHS Division of County Operations, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

“I am totally blind in my right eye and legally blind in my left eye,” said Coopwood.

She began having vision problems in college in 2001. A doctor volunteering to see students pro bono found that she had Keratoconus, a condition where the cornea, the white ball-shaped lens of the eye, thins and bulges outward into a cone shape.  He talked to his colleagues and arranged for her to have much-needed laser surgery at no charge. The doctor later referred her to the Lions Club for eyeglasses, and a club member told her about DSB.

She said she was thankful that DSB paid for a cornea transplant and tuition for her last two semesters of college.

Coopwood graduated from Philander Smith College in Little Rock in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in social work. She did an internship at DHS Division of Children and Family Services and was hired immediately after its completion. She worked there until 2014, when her eyesight declined, and she could no longer see to drive at night and be on call.

She was able to get a job at DCO, but in 2016, she had a rupture in her eye that detached her retina. She was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. DSB paid for the eye surgery necessary to preserve her vision and maintain her job. DSB also provided the desktop video magnifier (CCTV) and Magic Speech Software technology to enable her to do her job at DCO.

About a month ago, Coopwood began working at DSB. She thinks her experiences will help other people with vision problems.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s 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.

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Date Posted: 10/30/2018

Royal Resident Overcomes Struggles, Regains His Vision, Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

October 30, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Marci Manley

DHS Deputy Chief of Communications and Community Engagement

(501) 350-5380

marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Lancaster earns DSB award:  James Lancaster of Royal, on the left, accepts an achievement award from Brian Sanders, DSB area manager, at the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind. His employer, Tenenbaum Recycling Group, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.
Lancaster earns DSB award:  James Lancaster of Royal, on the left, accepts an achievement award from Brian Sanders, DSB area manager, at the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind. His employer, Tenenbaum Recycling Group, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.     

Royal Resident Overcomes Struggles, Regains His Vision, Earns Achievement Award   

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - James Lancaster of Royal, near Hot Springs, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). He faced numerous struggles in his attempts to enter the workforce, and at one point even lost his house.

Brian Sanders, DSB Area Field Manager, nominated Lancaster for the achievement award because of his determination to overcome adversity and succeed at work.

Lancaster had been employed as a metal fabricator. However, due to his vision loss, he was terminated from this job and was unable to secure employment with another company. No job meant no insurance to pay for much needed eye surgeries.

Lancaster said he was diagnosed with chronic angle-closure glaucoma, combined forms of age-related cataracts, congenital nystagmus (condition of involuntary eye movement), and coloboma (a prenatal hole in one of the structures of the eye, in Lancaster’s case, the optic disc). Lancaster's eye condition was progressive, and he was in imminent danger of permanent vision loss if corrective surgery wasn’t done.

His eye doctor referred him to DSB. After two subsequent surgical procedures were performed on his eyes, Lancaster was eager to go to work. “He pursued job placement activities without hesitation,” said Sanders. Lancaster landed a job as a material handler with Lowe's.

Later following a successful second surgery, Lancaster was able to secure his CDL license and acquired his current job as a truck driver with Tenenbaum Recycling Group in Hot Springs.

“This was a new employment endeavor pursued by Mr. Lancaster. He had attempted other job pursuits without success in his local area. When he was approached about the possibility of driving a truck, he embraced the opportunity and excelled in performance standards,” said Sanders. “After a successful transition to full-time gainful employment once again, Mr. Lancaster has been able to finance a new residence and continues to flourish in his job responsibilities.”

Lancaster was selected for the achievement award from an area that includes Saline, Garland, Hot Spring, Grant, Clark, and part of Pulaski Counties.

The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Little Rock Founders Lions Club on October 24, at World Services for the Blind.

His employer, Tenenbaum Recycling Group, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Lancaster said he appreciated the services he received from DSB. DSB services: he received are vocational rehabilitation counseling and guidance, surgeries and medical treatment, maintenance, training and job placement services. He was also provided with low vision aids and special prescription optical lens recommended by his eye doctor.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711.

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Date Posted: 10/26/2018

DHS Names Benton County Administrator Employee of the Year for “Can-Do Attitude”

For Immediate Release
Oct. 26, 2018 

For more information contact: 

Marci Manley, Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

Amy Webb, Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

DHS Names Benton County Administrator Employee of the Year for “Can-Do Attitude”

Young uses technology skills to help division improve timeliness, track work

 

Employee of the Year Wesley Young with DHS DirectorCindy Gilespie, left, and Mary Franklin, right, Director of the Division of County Operations.

Employee of the Year Wesley Young with DHS DirectorCindy Gilespie, left, and Mary Franklin, right, Director of the Division ofCounty Operations. 

The Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Arkansas Human Services Employee Association (AHSEA) named Benton County Administrator Wesley Young the 2018 employee of the year during a banquet held in Hot Springs on Thursday night.

AHSEA selects the agency employee of the year from the list of people named as employee of the year for each agency division and the shared services offices. Young, who has worked his way up through the agency ranks over the last nine years as part of the Division of County Operations (DCO), was one of 10 DHS employees up for the award. He has been the County Administrator at the DHS Benton County office since November 2016.

Fellow County Administrator Karen Rettmann nominated Young saying, “Wes always presents a positive example for DHS employees through his personal appearance, positive attitude, teamwork efforts, and chronic ‘can do’ attitude.”

Rettmann said that Young designed several databases for DCO to track performance at the individual employee, county, and statewide level to improve timeliness in processing data from other agencies – all outside the scope of his day-to-day duties.

“These reports have proven invaluable to our timely delivery of SNAP and Medicaid services not only in his county but all across our state,” she said.

DHS Director Cindy Gillespie congratulates Young on being named employee of the year and will rename the DHS Director’s conference room in his honor later today.

“Mr. Young leads by example – he works hard, he takes initiative, and he solves problems,” Gillespie said. “Even more important is that he uses his role at DHS to get involved in his community and better the lives of his fellow Arkansans.”

Other people honored Thursday night as division/office employees of the year are:

Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services – Bridget Atkins

Division of Children and Family Services – Ritchie McFarland

Division of County Operations – Wesley Young

Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education – Nora Fawcett

Division of Developmental Disabilities Services – Stuart Douglas

Division of Medical Services – Steven McKnight

Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance – Tami Rogers

Division of Services for the Blind – LaTasha Mays

Division of Youth Services - April Hannah

Shared Services/Office of Communications and Community Engagement – Stephen Thornton

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Date Posted: 10/24/2018

Little Rock Woman Who’s Blind Serves Community, Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release 
October 24, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce
Division of Services for the Blind
kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

Fagan earns DSB award:  From the left, Wayne Thornberry, coordinator for the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) Family Support Unit, and Kareba Pate, DCCECE program manager, accept a business partner award presented to DCCECE by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). Sheree Fagan, education and instruction analyst for DCCECE, received an achievement award for her career and community accomplishments. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Tonia Wright nominated Fagan for the award.
Fagan earns DSB award:  From the left, Wayne Thornberry, coordinator for the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) Family Support Unit, and Kareba Pate, DCCECE program manager, accept a business partner award presented to DCCECE by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). Sheree Fagan, education and instruction analyst for DCCECE, received an achievement award for her career and community accomplishments. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Tonia Wright nominated Fagan for the award.    

 

Little Rock Woman Who’s Blind Serves Community, Earns Achievement Award   

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Sheree Fagan of Little Rock, who’s been legally blind since birth, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). Fagan holds down two jobs and is active in volunteer work.

Fagan, a licensed teacher, was a Family Support Specialist at the DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. She did professional development training for providers and parents and conducted behavioral studies to help children stay in school. Recently, she was promoted and is now an Education and Instruction Analyst.

She has a part-time second job teaching life skills to people who are blind and visually impaired. Prior to this, Fagan was a classroom para-professional at Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASBVI) for five years.

Fagan has served for 10 years as a foster parent to Arkansas children who are blind and visually impaired. She has hosted high school international exchange students who are blind or visually impaired for 10 years; her current student is from Malaysia and attends ASBVI.

DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Tonia Wright nominated Fagan for the achievement award because of her determination to overcome adversity, succeed at work, and serve the community. She was selected from Lonoke County and a part of Pulaski County.

The award presentation was made October 24, at the noon meeting of the Little Rock Founders Lions Club. Her employer, the DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, was recognized as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Fagan graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Family and Consumer Science and later started working on a master’s degree from Harding University. She has two grown children – a son in Seattle and a daughter in Murfreesboro, TN.  She is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock and is active in the Arkansas School for the Blind Alumni Association.

Fagan said she appreciates DSB services, which included counseling and guidance; tuition at Pulaski Technical Institute and Harding University; testing materials; the cost of renewing her teacher’s license; independent living tools; and a computer, software and a printer.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s 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.

   

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Date Posted: 10/24/2018

Assistant Manager with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

October 24, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce

Division of Services for the Blind

kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

Burse is honored by the Department of Human Services: From the left, Nekemia Burse accepts an achievement award from the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind presented by Kaylebrae Clark, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Clark is holding the award for Next Day Telecommunications, Burse’s employer, who could not attend the presentation. The award was given to recognize the company as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.
Burse is honored by the Department of Human Services: From the left, Nekemia Burse accepts an achievement award from the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind presented by Kaylebrae Clark, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Clark is holding the award for Next Day Telecommunications, Burse’s employer, who could not attend the presentation. The award was given to recognize the company as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment. 

 

Assistant Manager with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nekemia Burse of Little Rock, who is visually impaired, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Burse has exceled at Next Day Telecommunications and was promoted to assistant manager in less than a year. She was hired after successfully completing a DSB on-the-job training program and company trainings to improve customer service skills and the ability to operate the many communications programs used by the company.

Kaylebrae Clark, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, nominated Burse for the achievement award because of her determination to overcome adversity, serve others, and succeed at work. She was selected from the north Pulaski County area.

The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Little Rock Founders Lions Club on October 24, at World Services for the Blind.

Her employer, Next Day Telecommunications, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Burse explained she was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a condition where the cornea, the white ball-shaped lens of the eye, thins and bulges outward into a cone shape. She was losing vision rapidly and was in imminent danger of losing her eyesight. DSB paid for the surgery necessary to preserve her vision and enable her to work.

Burse said she is thankful for DSB’s services. In addition to job placement services and medical assistance, DSB provided counseling and guidance and offered assistance from the DSB Technology Lab.

Burse is involved in church programs that assist with feeding the community and is an active Parent Teacher Association member.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s 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.

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Date Posted: 10/24/2018

Local Man Who’s Blind Updates Technology Skills, Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release
October 24, 2018 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce
Division of Services for the Blind
kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

 

Duncan  honored by DSB:  From the left, Earnest C. Merritt, Local DWS Office Manager, accepts a business partner award presented to Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB), and Adren Duncan, DWS Community and Social Services Specialist, receives an achievement award for his career and community accomplishments. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Kyle Kiper nominated Duncan for the award. Nearby is guide dog Uma.
Duncan  honored by DSB:  From the left, Earnest C. Merritt, Local DWS Office Manager, accepts a business partner award presented to Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB), and Adren Duncan, DWS Community and Social Services Specialist, receives an achievement award for his career and community accomplishments. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Kyle Kiper nominated Duncan for the award. Nearby is guide dog Uma. 

Local Man Who’s Blind Updates Technology Skills, Earns Achievement Award

Adren Duncan of Little Rock has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Duncan, who has been totally blind since birth, is a Community and Social Services Specialist with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, where he has been employed for nine years. Prior to this, he had been a Social Worker since 1972.

DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Kyle Kiper nominated Duncan, age 77, for the achievement award because of his determination to overcome adversity, serve the community, and succeed at work. He was selected from the Little Rock metro area.

The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Little Rock Founders Lions Club on October 24,at World Services for the Blind.

His employer, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Duncan said he appreciated the services he received from DSB. He worked with his counselor to address changes in the workplace and received training in the DSB Technology Lab to learn the most modern technology available to professionals who are blind to remove those barriers to success.

“He was unable to compete his work assignments and keep up with the case management at his job, because his personal Braille Notetaker was 20 years old,” said Kiper. “After Mr. Duncan received a new Notetaker from DSB, he was once again able to perform the essential functions of his job in a competitive manner.”

Duncan is an active member of the Benton Lions Club and a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. He and his wife Barbara have been married 40 years.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711.

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Date Posted: 10/24/2018

AmeriCorps Arkansas To Officially Welcome its New Members

For Immediate Release
October 24, 2018    

Media Contact: Shana Chaplin
DHS Deputy Chief of Community Engagement
(501) 320-6459
shana.chaplin@dhs.arkansas.gov

   

Marci Manley
DHS Deputy Chief of Communications
(501) 320-6036
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

   AmeriCorp - Opening Day Ceremony

AmeriCorps Arkansas To Officially Welcome its New Members

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – AmeriCorps Arkansas is hosting a special swearing-in ceremony Thursday, October 25, 10 a.m. recognizing their new members for the 2018-2019 year. The event takes place in the Grand Hall of Pulaski Technical College, located at 3000 W. Scenic Drive in North Little Rock.       

Congressman French Hill will give a keynote address about the impact of AmeriCorps Arkansas. The official AmeriCorps Arkansas pledge ritual and a brief presentation of the history of AmeriCorps are also part of the festivities.                                

“Promising to ‘Get Things Done for America’, members of AmeriCorps Arkansas will be sworn in to begin a year of service to Arkansas’s communities,” said Department of Human Services Deputy Chief of Community Engagement, Shana Chaplin. “AmeriCorps Arkansas members engage in a wide variety of service projects that address critical needs such as disaster services, economic opportunities, education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, and aid for veterans and military families.”

Members of AmeriCorps Arkansas are college students, or recent college graduates, who work with an assigned program that focuses on community outreach. Members receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, to help pay for school, in addition to a small living stipend.

The following community organizations will host members of AmeriCorps Arkansas for the 2018-2019 year:

Go to https://www.volunteerar.org/AC-Impact to find more information about AmeriCorps Arkansas.

 

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Date Posted: 10/24/2018

DHS Made Significant Progress Stabilizing System as Part of Year-Long Effort, Still Work to Do

Third phase of work will continue and sharpen focus on strengthening families, improving foster care, and supporting the workforce

 

Two years ago, Arkansas embarked on an aggressive but strategic plan to tackle a growing crisis in its child welfare and foster care system. In November 2016, the DHS Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) released a report called Moving Beyond Crisis, along with the ten key steps to a stronger system identified by child welfare expert Paul Vincent, as its Phase One response to the crisis.

In September 2017, the agency signaled the start of Phase Two of its efforts to improve the child welfare system with the release of the Renewed Hope report. Renewed Hope focused on three key areas of improvement: (1) Strengthening families so children can remain safely at home and families are more resilient, (2) Improving the foster care system so that it is stable for those who need it, and (3) Building, supporting, and empowering a strong DCFS workforce.

Though not all goals have been attained, the heavy-lifting done in Phase One and Phase Two has shored up the weakest areas of the system, creating a stronger foundation on which the next phase of work will be done. The new report, Foundation for the Future, is where DCFS begins Phase Three with a continued focus on strengthening families, improving foster care, and supporting the workforce. Why? Because we know that at the core of a strong child welfare system are resilient and supported families and workers. We owe it to the children and families we serve to build upon the successes and learn from the struggles of the last two years so that the child welfare system in Arkansas has a strong foundation for the future.

DHS Director Cindy Gillespie is confident that the steps taken over the past two years to address the system issues have laid a solid foundation for continued improvements. “Phase One of the effort to improve Arkansas’s child welfare system was largely successful at stabilizing the system and preventing a breakdown of the system,” she noted. “Phase Two built upon those efforts and focused on putting initiatives, programs, and practices in place to ensure that the system and the people within and around it were stronger, stable, supported, and empowered to make smarter, more effective decisions. That work built the foundation for Phase Three and the future of child welfare in Arkansas. This solid footing, grounded in a continued emphasis on safety, permanency, and well-being for the children and families served, will allow us to push forward with programs and partnerships that have shown success. It also allows us to try new initiatives that hold real promise for the future.”

Since starting the reform efforts in 2016, significant progress has been made in a number of key areas and outcomes:

Moving forward, there is still much work to be done to reach the goals that have been set, but DCFS Director Mischa Martin is excited about the future. “With the continued support of the Governor, the Legislature, and community partners, as well as the amazing dedication and passion of our frontline and support staff,” she said, “we are poised to make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve every day for years to come.”

To see a full copy of the report, click here: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/newsroom/FoundationForTheFuture_2018_Final_10.23.18.pdf 

Date Posted: 10/23/2018

Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center to Host 40th Anniversary Event


For immediate release
October  23,  2018

 
Media Contacts:  Karen Harper  
SEAHDC Rehab. Supervisor
(870) 226-6774 ext. 2110
karen.r.harper@dhs.arkansas.gov
 
Marci Manley
DHS Deputy Chief of Communications
(501) 350-5380
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

The SE Arkansas HDC Sign

 
Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center to Host 40th Anniversary Event

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center (SEAHDC) will hold a 40th anniversary ceremony on its campus, Friday, October 26 at 1 p.m.

The center, located in Warren, is hosting several Bradley County organizations for the festivities.

The Warren High School Jr. ROTC color guard is presenting. Warren Mayor Bryan Martin will give a proclamation, and former state representative John Lipton will give the keynote address.

There will also be a huge collection of photos available that shows the center’s past and its present. The public is encouraged to attend. 

“For 40 years, the center has helped clients, from throughout the state, reach a form of independence. That’s a big deal,” said SEAHDC Superintendent Mark Wargo. “We don’t overlook the fact that there are several people and organizations in southeast Arkansas that help us fulfill our mission. So this event not only celebrates the center and its history, we’re also celebrating all the people from the community that generously help our staff and clients.” 

The center, founded in 1978, provides vocational training and opportunities for people with a developmental or intellectual disability. SEAHDC, under the direction of the Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, offers a wide variety of direct or indirect services to its residents, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

For more information about SEAHDC, go to https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/human-development-centers/southeast-arkansas-hdc.


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Date Posted: 10/23/2018

Arkansas DHS Awarded Grant Aimed at Helping Relatives Raising Children in Foster Care

Award to assist kin in finding and using programs and services to meet needs of children they are raising

 

(LITTLE ROCK, AR) – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has been awarded a $295,544 grant to fund programs that will help grandparents and other relatives raising children in foster care.

“We are excited about this new opportunity to expand our efforts to help grandparents and other family members caring for their relatives in foster care,” said Mischa Martin, DCFS Director. “Research has shown, and we know from our own experiences here in Arkansas, that there are many benefits to placing children with relatives, including increased stability and safety, as well as the ability to maintain family connections and cultural traditions.”

The division plans to use the funds to hire staff to work directly with families and relatives, taking a team approach to finding safety and stability for children and families. This funding opportunity comes from the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) of 2018.

“As parents struggle with issues that affect their ability to safely and appropriately parent their children, it is important for state agencies like ours to develop resources to support kinship caregivers,” said DHS Deputy Director Keesa Smith. “There are significant supports available and this grant will help us help families learn about, find, and use programs and services to meet their needs and the needs of the children they are raising. I’m thrilled that our staff at DCFS will now have this special opportunity to build upon their efforts in this area.”

Contact DCFS Public Information Specialist Keith Metz at keith.metz@dhs.arkansas.gov or 501-683-2040 with questions about the initiative.

News Release > Date Posted: 10/12/2018

Review of Residential Services for Youth in DYS Custody Identifies Strengths, Challenges

For Immediate Release
Oct. 12, 2018

Media Contact: Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Review of Residential Services for Youth in DYS Custody Identifies Strengths, Challenges
State reviewing recommendations, looking at ways to address issues in upcoming session and beyond

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) released the results of an independent review of its residential system for court-involved youth on Friday that showed the State has made some strides in recent years, but significantly more work is needed to make Arkansas a model system.

“We applaud DHS and the State of Arkansas for being willing to take a close look at its current residential programs for youth with the goal of providing the most effective services for young people and families,” said Center for Children’s Law and Policy Deputy Director Jason Szanyi, who helped with the review. “Our goal was to identify the State’s strengths and challenges and outline a path toward model systems we see in other states.”

DYS Director Betty Guhman said she appreciates the candid assessment of the residential system. The Division is already working to address many of the issues identified and will put a plan in place to handle other recommendations that fit with ongoing reform efforts.

“There are steps we as a State can take within the next year and within the next five years to considerably improve our residential treatment programs for youth in our care,” Guhman said. “It won’t be easy and it will take time, but we are committed to improving this system.”

The Center found that the strengths of the system include that DHS:

To conduct the review, the Center staff visited all eight of the State’s residential juvenile treatment centers, reviewed data about DYS’ youth population, and talked with staff and stakeholders. Challenges identified that prevent the State from having a truly effective and model residential program include:

The Center concluded its review with 25 recommendations for actions the State could take in 12-24 months and two to five years. Some of the recommendations the State is working toward include:

Link: Arkansas Residential Services Review Report.pdf

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News Release > Date Posted: 10/12/2018

Renewed Hope (2017)

News Release > Date Posted: 10/04/2018

Arkansas Program Earns Grant to it Improve Services

Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) Director Jay Hill (left) and Arkansas Adult Protective Services (APS) Director Shannon Halijan are excited about the grant rewarded to APS. 

 

For immediate release
October 4, 2018                          

 

Arkansas Program Earns Grant to Help it Improve Services

Arkansas Adult Protective Services, within the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS),
receives its first Administration Community Living Grant

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Adult Protective Services (APS) is one of fourteen APS programs nationally to receive a $1.2 million grant from the Administration of Community Living (ACL). This is Arkansas’s first time receiving the award. Grant funds will support efforts to improve Arkansas’s APS system over the next three years.                                           

APS will use the grant to evaluate and upgrade practices, improve the program’s systems and data collection, and streamline overall reporting to the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS).       

“We earned the funding because of our focus on communication, education, staff trainings, and the use of technology to help improve the way we serve aging Arkansans,” said Shannon Halijan, Director of Arkansas Adult Protective Services. “This is the first time we’ve applied for the grant. The ACL grant strengthens our program by giving us the ability to review our work in new ways. Ultimately, we’ll be able to better identify trends, prevent adult maltreatment, and hold offenders who prey on our senior citizens accountable for their actions.”

Arkansas APS staff investigate reports of abuse and exploitation of older adults and people with disabilities. They provide support, case management, and connect people facing abuse to a variety of protective, emergency, and support services.                             

“This grant, and the upcoming work for my team over the next three years, will put Arkansas’s APS program on the map," Halijan said. "I’m proud of the APS staff, and I admire their compassion and dedication to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”          

The goal of Arkansas APS is to improve the state’s ability to complete documents and report cases, clients, and offender characteristics in a way that’s consistent with national standards. Arkansas APS is a program within the DHS Division of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services.

For more information about Arkansas APS go to https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/daas/aps.

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Date Posted: 10/02/2018

Music Teacher with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award

Immediate Release
October 2, 2018

Contact:
Kandy Cayce
 Division of Services for the Blind
(501) 682-0332

From the left are Maja Sevo, teacher; Heather Grisby, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; and Sarah Ford, principal. Sevo was selected as area Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind, and the Springdale Public School System was named as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

From the left are Maja Sevo, teacher; Heather Grisby, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; and Sarah Ford, principal. Sevo was selected as area Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind, and the Springdale Public School System was named as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.


Music Teacher with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award

Maja Sevo of Fayetteville, who is visually impaired, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Sevo is a certified music teacher for kindergarten through 12th grades with the Springdale Public School System at J.O. Kelly Middle School. 

This summer, she participated in vocal training in New York and Italy with top music professionals. 

“This will further her success in teaching,” said Heather Grisby, the DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who nominated Sevo for the achievement award. She was selected from the Benton County area because of her determination to overcome adversity, serve others, and succeed at work.

The award presentation was made at the school where Sevo teaches. Her employer, Springdale Public School System, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Sevo said she experienced retinal detachment in her left eye three times.  She could not read with her left eye and could only see colors and some shapes and forms. Sevo also had cataracts, which prevented the physician from removing the silicone oil that a previous doctor had placed on her retina.  Once the cataracts were successfully removed, Sevo was able to have the silicone oil removed and the retina has stayed attached with good eye pressure readings. 

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News Release > Date Posted: 09/26/2018

Business Owner Who’s Blind Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release
September 26, 2018

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce
 DHS Division of Services for the Blind
(501) 682-0332

William Trotter of Springdale delivers an acceptance speech after receiving an achievement award from the DHS Division of Services for the Blind presented by Shane Bronson, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, seated.

William Trotter of Springdale delivers an acceptance speech after receiving an achievement award from the DHS Division of Services for the Blind presented by Shane Bronson, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, seated.

Business Owner Who’s Blind Earns Achievement Award  

Little Rock, Ark. -  William Trotter of Springdale, who’s blind, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Trotter is a federally licensed firearms salesman and distributor. He has been the owner and operator of Ozark Bear Arms since 2011, where he buys, sells, and trades firearms and accessories.

DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Shane Bronson nominated Trotter for the achievement award because of his determination to overcome adversity and succeed as a small businessman. He was selected from Washington County.

The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Fayetteville Lions Club on September 26.

Trotter’s blindness is due to congenital glaucoma. Trotter appreciates the services he has received from DSB. He purchased his own technology, but DSB provided counseling and guidance; transportation services; and orientation and mobility training to use a white cane to increase his level of independence at home and work. DSB also purchased the initial stocks and supplies, tools, equipment, and licensure costs for him to start his business.

Trotter has a Bachelor’s degree in History/Political Science from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711. 

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Date Posted: 09/21/2018

Letter to Families Served by Ascent Children’s Health Services

This letter is being sent to families who receive services from Ascent Children’s Health Services facilities in North Little Rock, West Memphis, and Arkadelphia. Ascent formally notified DHS of its intent to close these facilities.

You can directly contact a provider that is most convenient to you. The list can be found here.

September 21, 2018   Re: Ascent Children’s Health Services facilities in North Little Rock, West Memphis, and Arkadelphia  Dear Beneficiary:   You are receiving this letter because you have been identified as a Medicaid beneficiary receiving either Early Intervention Day Treatment (EIDT) or Outpatient Behavioral Health services through an Ascent Children’s Health Services facility in Arkadelphia, North Little Rock, or West Memphis. Ascent has formally notified the Arkansas Department of Human Services of its intent to close these three Ascent locations effective October 17, 2018. These closures will not impact your eligibility for EIDT services, even if you were grandfathered in under old rules when EIDT launched earlier this year.   Attached to this letter you will find a list of Medicaid providers in the areas near these facilities. You can directly contact a provider on the attached list that is most convenient to you.    As part of your transition to a new service provider you should contact Ascent to obtain a final appointment with your service provider.  At that time, you should:  	1)  	Request a copy of your medical records from Ascent to assist your new 			provider with continuing your services, and  	2) 	Request a prescription for any medication you have been prescribed by this 		provider.  You may ask for assistance by calling the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC) Medicaid Beneficiary Service Center at 1-833-402-0672.  The hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  If you are a member of a PASSE, please contact your care coordinator for assistance.  If you are receiving this letter and have already transitioned to a new provider, you may use this notice to request any records your new provider may need to assist with your treatment.  Thank you.  Sincerely,   Tami Harlan Director, DHS Division of Medical Services

Date Posted: 09/21/2018

3rd Annual Fall Food & Craft Fair Supports Artisans with Disabilities

For Immediate Release:

September 21, 2018

Media Contact:

Lainey Morrow
Medicaid Information Specialist
Lainey.morrow@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
Marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

3rd Annual Fall Food & Craft Fair Supports Artisans with Disabilities

Governor Asa Hutchinson to Unveil Latest Efforts for Supportive Employment Opportunities

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – More than twenty vendors and eight food trucks will fill Main Street on September 28, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the 3rd annual Fall Food and Craft Fair sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). It will be held outside the DHS Central Offices in downtown Little Rock and the public is invited to this free event.

Governor Asa Hutchinson also will  be at the event starting at 11:30 a.m. to unveil DHS’s latest efforts to offer supportive employment opportunities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities and a new opportunity to showcase their talents.

All items sold at the fair have been made by clients of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). Some of the items include custom-made rugs from Booneville; fresh vegetables grown at Human Development Centers across the state; magnets, birdhouses, holiday wreaths and ornaments, dog treats and brushes, paintings and sculptures, candles, soaps, and more.

Division Director Melissa Stone said the fair provides clients the opportunity to make money by selling the creative things they make and offers the public an opportunity to see how talented these individuals are.  

“Both the Food and Craft Fair and the new effort we are unveiling are great opportunities to support these artisans. Our clients feel a lot of pride in what they’ve made, especially when they’re paid for their work and they can interact with the people buying what they made,” Stone said.

The Division provides funding for community and facility-based services to thousands of Arkansans. The Division also operates five residential Human Development Centers in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro, and Warren, which are home to nearly 1,000 clients. The Division’s mission is to work with clients so they can be as independent as possible and have a high quality of life, Stone said.

Some of Arkansas’s best food trucks will be on-site along with the SNAP Mobile unit, which provides free nutrition education and locally grown produce for purchase.

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

 

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Date Posted: 09/19/2018

$10.3 Million Grant Award Set To Boost State Prevention, Treatment Services

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2018

Media Contact: Matt Burks
Phone: 501-618-8175

$10.3 Million Grant Award Set To Boost State Prevention, Treatment Services

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — A division of the Arkansas Department of Human Services has been awarded a two-year federal grant totaling $10,342,752 to focus on improving prevention and treatment services throughout Arkansas.

The Division of Adult, Aging and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) received the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“This grant award allows Arkansas to increase the ability to improve substance abuse, education, and treatment programs,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. “In addition, it will allow the expansion of additional programs that have a proven track record of saving lives. We are eager to pursue the abilities that this grant award provides to the citizens of Arkansas.”

The SOR grant will positively impact current prevention and treatment service programs, including the opioid antagonist Naloxone program, prescriber education program, senior education programs, and model programs for peer recovery. The goals of the SOR grant are:

  1. Increase access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) by recruiting and supporting new MAT providers. 
  2. Reduce unmet treatment and recovery needs. 
  3. Reduce opioid overdose-related deaths through the provision of OUD prevention activities.  The AR-IMPACT physician training program will be continued, and two new prevention programs will be added.
  4. Modernize the DAABHS data-collection system by the addition of Web Infrastructure Treatment Services.

Key programs that will be continued with include Community-level opioid prevention activities conducted by the Criminal Justice Institute; The UAMS MAT Recovery Initiative for Arkansas Rural Communities (MATRIARC) and Project ECHO programs to provide primary care physicians, general psychiatrists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and mental health professionals with access to addiction psychiatry services for management; The UAMS Arkansas Maternal Opioid Rural Expansion (AR MORE) program to addresses the needs of pregnant and parenting women abusing opioids ; The UAMS Arkansas Improving Multi-disciplinary Pain Care and Treatment (AR IMPACT) education program; The Arkansas Community Corrections  MAT Re-entry Project which provides individuals re-entering of extended release injectable Naltrexone (Vivitrol) prior to release, with referral to a MAT provider in the community. 

New programs that will be created with the SOR grant are the (1) Peers Achieving Collaborative Treatment (PACT) Program and (2) the Outreach to and education of the Medicare population about the dangers of opioids through the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging, the nine Centers on Aging, and nursing facilities served by UAMS providers. 

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News Release > Date Posted: 09/19/2018

Certified Nursing Assistant with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

September 19, 2018    

 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce

Division of Services for the Blind

kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Towns honored by DSB:  PRN Medical Services was recognized by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment. CNA Lisa Towns received an achievement award for her career success and service to the community. Attending the awards presentation in Fort Smith are, from the left, Deanna McGhee, Office Manager, Jennifer O’Hara, Scheduler, Lisa Towns, CNA, all of PRN Medical Services, and Tina Shores, an Area Manager at DHS Division of Services for the Blind.

Towns honored by DSB:  PRN Medical Services was recognized by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment. CNA Lisa Towns received an achievement award for her career success and service to the community. Attending the awards presentation in Fort Smith are, from the left, Deanna McGhee, Office Manager, Jennifer O’Hara, Scheduler, Lisa Towns, CNA, all of PRN Medical Services, and Tina Shores, an Area Manager at DHS Division of Services for the Blind. 

Certified Nursing Assistant with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award  

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -  Lisa Towns of Fort Smith, who is visually impaired, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Towns has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant with PRN Medical Services for 18 years. 

“Although there have been some breaks in her employment, she’s continued her deep desire to help others,” said Tina Shores DSB Area Manager who nominated Towns for the achievement award.

“She works with patients in their homes and is an invaluable resource to the people she assists,” said Shores. Towns was nominated because of her determination to overcome adversity, serve others, and succeed at work.

The award presentation was made during a meeting of the Fort Smith Lions Club.

Field Representatives Jessi Solley from Senator John Boozman’s office and Janice Scaggs from Congressman Steve Womack’s office, each presented Towns with letters of congratulations at the event. Towns was selected from an area that includes Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Johnson, Scott, Yell, and Montgomery Counties.

Her employer, PRN Medical Services, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Towns said she had noticed her vision was declining and was diagnosed with optic neuritis in the left eye and optic atrophy in the right eye. Both conditions damage the optic nerve.

Towns expressed her appreciation for DSB services. DSB provided a computer and software; low-vision aids; orientation and mobility training to use a white cane; independent living aids; and financial assistance for massage therapy training.

In her leisure time, Towns likes spending time with her family, having cookouts, and going camping. She also enjoys working on craft projects.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s 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.

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Towns earns special honor: On the left, Janice Scaggs, Field Representative for Congressman Womack, presents a letter congratulating Lisa Towns for being selected as the outstanding area Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind. To the right, Jessi Solley, Representative for Senator John Boozman,  presents a letter congratulating Lisa Towns for being selected as the outstanding area Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind.

 

Date Posted: 09/17/2018

Carroll County Walmart Employee earns Achievement Award

For Immediate Release

September 17, 2018

Media Contact: 
Kandy Cayce
 DHS Division of Services for the Blind
(501) 682-0332

 

Attending an awards presentation were, from left to right, Buddy Fry, Green Forest Lions Club president; Kevin Estes, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; Billy Langwell, area Consumer of the Year; Marti Langwell, his spouse; and Jared DeMeyer, his supervisor at Walmart. The Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind recognized the Walmart in Berryville as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Attending an awards presentation were, from left to right, Buddy Fry, Green Forest Lions Club president; Kevin Estes, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; Billy Langwell, area Consumer of the Year; Marti Langwell, his spouse; and Jared DeMeyer, his supervisor at Walmart. The Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind recognized the Walmart in Berryville as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Carroll County Walmart Employee Earns Achievement Award

Billy Langwell of Green Forest in Carroll County has been named the area outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Langwell has worked eight years at the Walmart in Berryville as a landscape, lawn, and garden associate. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Kevin Estes nominated Langwell for the achievement award because of Langwell’s determination to overcome adversity, serve his community, and succeed at work.

Langwell volunteers with the Cup of Love Ministry in Eureka Springs and is an ordained minister.

“He is actively involved in the prison ministry at the Carroll County Detention Center, sharing hope and faith with those currently incarcerated. His leadership and direction prepares them to re-enter their communities and find new,positive life paths,” said Estes.

Langwell was selected from an area that includes Boone, Newton, Marion, Baxter, Carroll, Madison, and Searcy Counties. The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Green Forest Lions Club on September 17, at the Cattleman’s Restaurant.

His employer, Walmart of Berryville, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Langwell said he was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts a few years ago, but finances made it impossible for him to get the surgeries he needed. By the time he was referred to DSB, his cataracts had progressed to the point he had very little usable vision. DSB paid the remaining costs, after his insurance, for the surgeries, medications, and related medical treatment.

Langwell said the assistance from DSB allowed him to maintain his employment and enabled him to assist his wife through her own health issues. DSB also provided counseling and guidance services to Langwell during his treatments.  

This is the 11th year DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711.

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Date Posted: 09/10/2018

Manicurist with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award


For Immediate Release
September 10, 2018    
 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce
Division of Services for the Blind
kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

Nguyen honored by DSB: Attending an award presentation are, from the left, Christina Phan, daughter of the honoree; Doan Nguyen, owner of City Nails in Conway; and area Consumer of the Year Bich Nguyen (no relation to her employer). City Nails received a business partner award for promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.
Nguyen honored by DSB: Attending an award presentation are, from the left, Christina Phan, daughter of the honoree; Doan Nguyen, owner of City Nails in Conway; and area Consumer of the Year Bich Nguyen (no relation to her employer). City Nails received a business partner award for promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.  

 

Manicurist with Vision Impairment Earns Achievement Award 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -  Bich Nguyen of Conway, who is visually impaired, has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). 

Nguyen works as a manicurist with City Nails in Conway. DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Dwight Turner nominated Nguyen for the achievement award because of her determination to overcome adversity and succeed at work. 

“This lady is from Vietnam and does not speak any English. With this language barrier, it was even more commendable of her that she was willing and able to search for and find employment,” Turner said.

Nguyen was selected from an area that includes Faulkner, Conway, Pope, Van Buren, and part of Pulaski Counties. The award presentation was made September 4, at a meeting of the Conway Noon Lions Club, held at China Town Restaurant. 

Her employer, City Nails, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment. 

After Nguyen noticed her vision was decreasing, her eye doctor diagnosed her with severe cataracts and referred her to DSB. She was grateful for DSB services, and after her cataract surgeries, she was able to complete nail tech training and go to work.

This is the eleventh year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. 

For information about DSB’s 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.

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Date Posted: 09/07/2018

Pine Bluff Machine Operator with Visual Impairments Earns Achievement Award


For Immediate Release
September 7, 2018 

Media Contact: Kandy Cayce
Division of Services for the Blind
kandy.cayce@dhs.arkansas.gov

Handley honored by DSB: Attending an achievement award presentation are, from the left, John Young, supervisor at Evergreen Packaging; Shayla Nelson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at DHS Division of Services for the Blind; John Handley, Area Consumer of the Year; and Eric Edwards, Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club President. Evergreen Packaging was honored as a business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.
Handley honored by DSB: Attending an achievement award presentation are, from the left, John Young, supervisor at Evergreen Packaging; Shayla Nelson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at DHS Division of Services for the Blind; John Handley, Area Consumer of the Year; and Eric Edwards, Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club President. Evergreen Packaging was honored as a business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment. 


 

Pine Bluff Machine Operator with Visual Impairments Earns Achievement Award 


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - John Handley of Pine Bluff has been named the area’s outstanding Consumer of the Year by the Department of Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

He has worked over 40 years as a Machine Operator and Training Coordinator at Evergreen Packaging in Pine Bluff.

DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Shayla Nelson nominated Handley for the achievement award because of his determination to overcome adversity and succeed at work. He was selected from an area that includes Jefferson, Arkansas, Desha, Dallas, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Drew counties.           

The award presentation was made at the noon meeting of the Pine Bluff Downtown Lions Club on September 7, at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

His employer, Evergreen Packaging, was recognized by DSB as an outstanding business partner for its commitment to promoting the employment of persons with vision impairment.

Handley said he had been diagnosed with cataracts and glaucoma and required treatment due to his blurred vision.  His eye care provider referred him to DSB, which paid the remaining costs after his insurance for surgery and related medical treatment.

“I am very pleased with the services I received from DSB. I recommend them to anyone who needs help with their eye treatments so they can work,” Handley said. 
DSB also provided counseling and guidance and low vision aids to help Mr. Handley increase his level of independence at home and work.

Handley serves as a deacon and Sunday school superintendent at Mount Harmony Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.  He and his wife Brenda of 41 years have three daughters and two granddaughters. They enjoy spending time with their family.

This is the 11th year that DSB has given Consumer of the Year awards to recognize individuals who have managed their rehabilitation plans, gained marketable skills, secured good jobs, and become role models for others. An overall state winner will be selected at the end of the year.

DSB provides vocational rehabilitation services to adults who are blind or severely visually impaired and whose goal is successful employment. The division also serves youth and older blind individuals. For information about DSB’s programs and services, visit the DSB website at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb, or call 1-800-960-9270, 501-682-5463, or deaf relay 711.

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Date Posted: 09/14/2018

State Agency Awarded $11.3 Million for Program To Reduce Underage Drinking, Drug Abuse

For Immediate Release
Sept. 14, 2018

Contact for More Information:
Kirk Lane, Arkansas Drug Director
(501) 618-8690
 

State Agency Awarded $11.3 Million for Program To Reduce Underage Drinking, Drug Abuse

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — A division of the Arkansas Department of Human Services has been awarded a five-year federal grant totaling $11.3 million to support programs aimed at preventing underage drinking and the abuse of drugs by youth.

The Division of Adult, Aging and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) received the grant   from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“This $11 million grant will allow us to intensify our already significant efforts to guide young people away from the abuse of alcohol and drugs,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “This is a worthy project, and I applaud everyone involved in pursuing the grant. I am confident that this program will lead some students to make good choices and steer clear of drug abuse and addiction.”

Arkansas has a long history of solid support of programs to discourage underage drinking and drug abuse, and this grant will enhance efforts to reach more youth, Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said.

“The DAABHS Prevention team will work with youth, parents, law enforcement, educators, faith-based organizations, and business leaders to address the consequences associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs,” Lane said. “We also will suggest alternatives that are positive, risk-reducing and resilience-building.”

The overall goal is to reduce use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs by changing the culture, attitudes, and behaviors with programs tailored to certain demographic areas.  

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Arkansas Department of Human Services
Arkansas Department of Human Services

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

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

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