The Cabinet is chaired by the Governor and includes the Secretaries of Health and Human Resources; the Commissioner of Employment Programs or a designee; the Secretary of Administration or a designee; the State Superintendent of Schools; the Attorney General; one member from the House of Delegates and one member from the Senate, both appointed by the Governor and serve in an advisory capacity only; and any others the Governor may appoint.
Family Resource Networks (FRNs) are the Cabinet's primary vehicle for accomplishing its mission. FRN's are county or multi-county coalitions that plan and coordinate local service improvements for children and families. FRN members may consist of government, business, community, religious and civic representatives, local service providers and consumers.
FRN's are responsible for assessing community needs, defining current service resources or gaps in services, and coordinating these services to best benefit the community's consumers. To empower FRN's, the Cabinet issues grants to FRN's based on proposals submitted to the Cabinet. These proposals reflect local action plans which illustrate the county or multi-county population needs, available services, services needed and FRN's plan to meet the community's needs with local resources in a more efficient and effective way. The Cabinet assesses the FRN's ability to accomplish its plan for service improvement as outlined in the grant proposal. Once the Cabinet has entered into a contract with an FRN, the Cabinet evaluates the success of the FRN in meeting its community's needs.
The Performance Evaluation and Research Division made one recommendation in the original report. The Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families is in compliance with the recommendation.
ISSUE AREA 1: The Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families did not have goals and outcome measures from 1990 through 1994 and will not have data for its current measures until 1997.
The Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families should
provide reports to the Joint Committee on Government
Operations detailing the results of its customer surveys and
provide such surveys, as well as, reports detailing the
agency's impact on the outcome indicators described in its
long range plan.
Level of Compliance: In Compliance
The Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families has provided this information for the Joint Committee on Government Operations through this report and other contacts. The information provided is discussed below.
The Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families conducted a consumer satisfaction survey in 1996 (see Appendix A). The survey participants represent parents of children with special needs, recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, recipients of Medicaid, and parents receiving other public services. The results of the 1996 survey identified the following issues:
Consumers believe additional services, resources, and assistance will be needed if they are to become independent of the welfare system;
Consumers want to learn more about additional services and the benefits their families could receive; and
The level of trust between consumers and agencies providing services needs to be improved.
Another survey was completed in 1998 (see Appendix B). The results of this survey showed that the issues identified in the 1996 survey were still on the minds of consumers. In addition, the 1998 survey identified the following new issues:
Although consumers feel that they are learning more about
what services are available for their families, the more
they learn the less they feel they know;
Consumers equate services with the facility where they apply and not the agency which is providing the service. For example, if the consumer applies for the WIC nutrition program at the welfare office, they perceive it as a service provided by the welfare agency rather than the public health program that it is;
Consumers generally do not feel that they have the right to appeal a decision made by an agency representative with which they may disagree; and
Consumers feel that there may be a degree of retribution from agencies related to other services they are receiving if they do not agree with decisions made by the agency. In other words, the consumer feels they may lose needed services already being received if they complain about not receiving other services.
The Cabinet's work on conducting surveys of its consumers should be commended. However, it should be noted that the 1996 survey only included 33 responses out of a possible 70, while the 1998 survey included 138 responses out of a possible 180. The sample sizes for both surveys are too small to be representative of consumers statewide. Future surveys of consumers should be large enough to achieve a reasonable level of statistical significance, as determined by the nature of the survey and the Cabinet's survey goals. In addition, surveys provide an excellent way of gaining insight into trends which may become evident though the Cabinet's outcome indicator studies. Because of the broad array of services under the scope of the Cabinet, the Cabinet may want to consider conducting more numerous, narrowly defined surveys on targeted populations to obtain information which would be especially useful in determining specific needs of children and families.
Additionally, these surveys have been made of consumers attending the Cabinet's annual Conference for West Virginia Families. While surveys conducted at the Conference provide useful information, the non-random selection of individuals to survey may bias results. Such factors as which FRNs are providing transportation and the location of the conference may have an undesirable effect on what is being measured. In addition, consumers attending the conference can generally be understood to have a greater interest in the Cabinet's activities than those not attending, which provides both opportunities and threats to survey objectives.
The Cabinet makes quarterly progress reports which document its impact on children and families in the State. The Cabinet now has the entire State covered by Family Resource Networks (FRNs). FRNs are the main mechanism that the Cabinet uses to provide various services to children and families at the local level. FRNs submit a quarterly progress report to the Cabinet detailing its effect on outcome indicators. These reports represent an important management tool for the Cabinet to monitor the impact that the FRNs and the services they provide have on children and families at the local level.
The Cabinet's Indicators Selection Task Team submitted its report on Outcomes and Indicators of Child and Family Well Being on September 15, 1998 (see Appendix C). The report identifies what is the best data that is available to measure progress toward achieving the outcome goals of the Cabinet's long range plan regarding the improvement of child and family well being throughout the State. The Cabinet recently made West Virginia one of thirteen states to receive a Federal grant which will help in developing and monitoring of performance indicators. In the future, this initiative should provide a wealth of performance data.
The Cabinet also circulates an annual report, a biannual
newsletter and an annual report on the West Virginia Families
Conference. These reports summarize progress made in improving
the well being of children and families statewide. These
documents are more heavily circulated throughout the State.
The Cabinet on Children and Families should give greater consideration to the statistical significance of future surveys.
The Cabinet should continue with its well designed Outcomes and Indicators initiative.