Last week, I detailed the Department’s priority of modernizing the Unemployment Insurance and workforce systems to strengthen our services and continue to invest in Arizona’s labor force. While we have identified appropriate federal funding, DES is also seeking additional funding through the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. However, this isn’t the only priority for the Department. On September 1, 2021, we submitted our complete budget request to support other DES initiatives, ranging from the Second Chance Initiative to reduce recidivism, to supporting individuals with developmental disabilities through provider rate increases and our capacity to manage caseloads. Here is a closer look at just a few of our budget priorities for the next fiscal year.
Continuing to Provide Superior Services as Adult Protective Services Reporting Increases
The Department requested $8.2 million in General Funds to increase staffing in alignment with an increase in Adult Protective Services (APS) reports. This will ensure that investigators and support staff are able to maintain reasonable caseload levels so they can continue to provide superior support and protection to Arizona’s vulnerable adult population.
American Rescue Plan FMAP Reinvestment - Rate Increases for Home and Community Based Services
The Department requested $837 million in federal Title XIX spending authority to utilize enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rates as established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The enhanced rates will be used to support Home and Community Based Services that are administered by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).
Division of Developmental Disabilities: Caseload and Service Costs
The Department requested $159 million (total funds) in order to address growing membership and costs for DDD services. This increase in funding will ensure that DDD members continue to receive high quality services in a timely manner.
Arizona Early Intervention Program: Provider Rate Increases
The Department requested a total of $5.4 million in General Fund over FY 2023 and FY 2024 to increase AzEIP provider rates to more competitive levels in order to ensure the availability of services for children with developmental delays. This will result in better services and enhanced outcomes for children ages birth to 3.
Reducing Recidivism Through Second Chance Centers
The Department requested $1.05 million in General Funds to continue critical reentry services that have benefitted justice-involved Arizonans. Specifically, the Department will continue to provide a real second chance by delivering employment and other services to incarcerated Arizonans. This will continue the successful programs that allowed the reentry services to reach incarcerated Arizonans during the pandemic, and expand operations in fiscal year 2023 to assist in Therapeutic Community and “Prison in Reach” programs.
Friends of the Farm: Broadening Reach and Converting the Pilot Program
The Department requested $500,000 in ongoing General Funds to continue the operations of the well-received Friends of the Farm program, which provides fresh produce to communities throughout the state. The program also supports and provides employment opportunities for small farmers and growers by purchasing produce directly from local farms.
Improving IT Infrastructure and Security
The Department requested $7.2 million in General Funds over FY 2023 and FY 2024 in order to bolster the Department’s efforts at maintaining cybersecurity and technological infrastructure. The funds will be used to enhance security monitoring practices, refresh firewall equipment, support security staff and more.
Investing in the Safety and Prosperity of Our Communities
DES is a diverse agency, touching the lives of millions of Arizonans. We are called upon to protect the physical and financial wellbeing of our communities in myriad ways. We are uniquely positioned to combine and bridge services in a way that can comprehensively serve families, providing not only a strong foundation upon which to grow, but also the scaffolding that allows individuals to reach new heights. Every investment into our programs and services is an investment in the future of Arizona families.