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Lawmakers OK child welfare funding without governor’s suggested cash incentives for improvement

By ThisIsReno

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: The Legislature’s two money committees today approved block grant funding for child welfare activities handled by Clark and Washoe counties, but delayed implementation of a proposed “incentive” element of the plan until 2014.

The requirement that a portion of the funds be made available to the two counties only after demonstrating improvement in the delivery of services was a point of contention in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

A Clark County child welfare official said it would be difficult for the county to meet the targets required for the incentive funding because of fiscal issues at the local level.

The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to delay implementation of the performance-based element of the funding after discussions with county officials.

As a result all of the funding proposed for child welfare activities in the two counties will be available for use regardless of performance. Clark and Washoe county officials supported the block grant plan for the 2011-13 budget with this change.

The original proposal would have funded child welfare programs for the two counties at $50 million a year, with $37.5 million of the total going to Clark County. Another $7 million, with $5.25 million for Clark County, would have been part of the fiscal incentive program.

The Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees voted to approve the block grant funding for the entire amounts without the performance requirement for the budget that begins July 1.

“I think that we came out with a really good plan that everyone can agree to,” said Assemblywoman April Mastroluca, D-Henderson. “I think that it is something that is really going to help child welfare in Nevada because we talk about flexibility, we want to give some flexibility, but we also want accountability and this has the best of both worlds.”

The block grant funding will require the counties to maintain their levels of local funding support for child welfare services or face a reduction in funding from the state.

Audio clip:

Assemblywoman April Mastroluca says block grant plan has both flexibility for counties and accountability to taxpayers:

051211Mastroluca :21 of both worlds.”