- We helped Missourians in need.
Year after year, DSS team members go above and beyond to help support others during times of need. In 2022, our team donated over $74,000 to charities through our annual charitable campaign, adopted countless families and children in need to ensure they had a holiday to remember, donated gifts and supplies to foster families and Missouri’s children in foster care, and dedicated their time and service to help support victims of multiple natural disasters.
- We protected more children and youth.
Department personnel and Children’s Division team members have worked diligently to ensure that provisions of HB 557 have been implemented to protect children and youth. The legislation strengthened the ability of DSS to protect children and youth in exempt-from-license care facilities through well checks, and expands background and fingerprint check requirements for certain care providers.
- We worked on improving processes.
- The Missouri Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit achieved certification from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare for the Alivia fraud waste and abuse module which helps ensure the maximum enhanced federal funding for Medicaid operations.
- 468,090 individuals in SNAP households elected to receive DSS text messages.
- The Children’s Division worked with Change & Innovations to deploy the Central Consult Unit which benefits both Missouri families and Children’s Division workers by reducing workloads more efficiently and closing out involvement with families more quickly.
- The MO HealthNet Division continued modernizing their payment systems by implementing and achieving federal certification for the electronic visit verification system
- The Office of Workforce & Community Initiatives (OWCI) developed new partnerships with several organizations to enhance their ability to provide more services to more people and created a contact center for benefit recipients to learn more about programmatic requirements and contact youth in foster care over the age of 16 to connect them with employment opportunities and training programs.
- The Fraud Finder Application is 9 months ahead of schedule and $172,000 under budget. Since October, it has identified approximately $700,000 in fraud, 81 stolen identities, 10 EBT trafficking cases, 100 cases of clients living in other states receiving Missouri public welfare benefits, 74 alternative care cases, and 5 prosecution cases.
- We helped Missourians meet their basic needs.
Through the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, we provided over $3 million in assistance to 9,738 Missouri households helping them pay their water and sewage bills while the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provided over $75.7 million in assistance to nearly 100,000 Missouri households. Our Child Support Enforcement team collected $595 million to support Missouri children and families, and Rehabilitation Services for the Blind provided training, assistive technology, and preventative eye care services to 3,342 individuals. The Food Banks distributed 21.5M pounds of food from the DSS administered The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served over 333,000 households and more than 675,000 people.
- We ranked as a national leader.
DSS’ Rehabilitation Services for the Blind was recognized as one of the top performing blind agencies in the nation for the 4th year in a row. This year they were ranked first in the nation on their performance measure for individuals maintaining employment 2 quarters after exit, and ranked 4th on individuals maintaining employment 4 quarters after exit.
- We prepared our youth for their future.
The Division of Youth Services, for first time since 2019, provided “in person” graduation ceremonies and celebrations in each of the five regions around the state. 222 youth earned their high school diploma or passed the High School Equivalency Test. Two years after leaving the Division of Youth Services, 81% of the youth have been identified as law-abiding.
Additionally, our Office of Workforce and Community Initiatives (OWCI) has worked with 449 foster homes to prepare older foster youth with employment and training resources. OWCI also provided funding for Jobs for Americas Graduates (JAG) which supported 104 programs in 70 schools. During the 2021-2022 school year, there were 3,200 students in either the middle or high school program, which resulted in 729 graduates. JAG Missouri leads the Nation with a 98% graduation rate.
- We moved more children and youth to permanency.
The goal of permanency is to find the youth in foster care a safe, permanent home that will allow them to grow and thrive. Sometimes this means returning home safely with their families, other times this means finding alternate options that are best for each individual youth. Last year, 6,671 children exited Alternative Care in Children’s Division. 45% reunited with their family, 22% were adopted, 22% are now in a guardianship, and 11% for other reasons, such as aging out as an adult.
- We helped Missourians with employment.
The Office of Workforce and Community Initiatives (OWCI) engaged with 81 faith-based organizations, 34 veterans organizations, 777 employers, 294 non-profits, and 536 government agencies in its effort to enhance employer engagement. Additionally, approximately 3,200 Missourians were served through Skill-up and 8,760 were referred to the Missouri Work Assistance program for services.
- We helped more Missourians with health access.
The health of our citizens and access to quality, affordable health insurance is one of our primary goals as a department. With voter approval of Medicaid expansion in 2020, Missouri became the only state in the nation to implement a massive eligibility transformation in the midst of the national public health emergency. The expansion of Medicaid to Missouri adults resulted in a crushing volume of new applications that were to be processed by DSS team members. This past year the Family Support Division enrolled approximately 289,246 Missourians to the adult expansion group.
DSS implemented a transformation of the fee for service children’s Medicaid program by implementing a new managed care health plan contracted to Home State Health. Show Me Healthy Kids, Missouri’s new health plan for many children and youth, including those in state custody or foster care.
The MO HealthNet Division (MHD) increased rates for several providers which will increase provider participation in the MO HealthNet program and improve access to care for MO HealthNet participants. Coupled with other innovative incentive strategies, this effort assisted Missouri in enrolling an additional 3,348 providers that accept Medicaid coverage for reimbursement in 2022.
Through Project Hep Cure, MHD has enabled 1,500 participants to be cured of their hepatitis C in 2022. MHD launched Project Hep Cure to jumpstart the elimination of hepatitis C (HCV) in Missourians by eliminating barriers to treatment for MHD’s participants. Now with newer direct acting antiretroviral (DAA) drugs, HCV is curable for patients in as little as eight weeks. Missouri is now recognized as one of the national leaders in patient access to HCV medications.
- We invested in our team members.
In 2022, Governor Mike Parson proposed and the Missouri General Assembly approved a supplemental budget bill beginning to address long-lagging compensation for state employees by implementing a 7.5% cost-of-living adjustment and improving the minimum pay rate for all employees. Recognizing this was just a first step, DSS implemented noticeable investments in Division of Youth Services front-line staff in July and followed these with notable investments in compensation for Children’s Division front-line case workers in December. Continuing to build on this momentum, Governor Mike Parson has recommended an additional 8.7% cost-of-living increase and further improvements to the minimum pay rate for all state employees to be considered by the General Assembly for implementation on March 1, 2023.
- We helped our team members grow and develop professionally.
This past year, 77,208 hours of MO Learning or Human Resource training were completed by our team members. The Missouri Office of Administration also launched the Show Me Excellence White Belt Training which 794 of our team members completed. From October – December, we hosted a series of two day Regional Leadership Conferences around the state for over 400 managers and supervisors. These conferences focused on providing important updates, cross-divisional trainings, professional development sessions, and networking opportunities. During 2022, there were 84 DSS Learning Labs which provided professional development to staff and partners. This is a 3 part series that focused on DSS programs/benefits, other state agency programs/benefits, and non-state programs and benefits.
6 DSS team members were also selected to participate in the Missouri Leadership Academy. These team members completed specific projects that have helped to improve operations in Missouri state government including:
- MO Appreciation: The MO Appreciation website delivers an overall brand to help promote a culture of meaningful recognition amongst state team members which highlights tools and resources aimed at rewards and recognition for our teams
- MODEL MO (Missouri Disability Employment Leading in Meaningful Opportunities): Enhances recruitment and retention of state employees with disabilities
- The Missouri Externships Project (Excellence From Within): The program would allow state agencies to tackle significant challenges by using emerging leaders' skills while offering great professional development opportunities.
- 24/7 Facility Staffing: This addresses the critical staffing shortage and aims to improve team member retention in DSS 24/7 Congregate Care facilities
In December, the Department also approved 611 Professional Development Awards to our top 10% performing employees. This award included $1,500 of funding the team member is able to use towards a professional development opportunity such as a certification, continuing education, or conference attendance help further their skillset.
- We focused on improving organizational culture.
Department leadership launched the first of many efforts to FOCUS DSS on improving organizational culture through an in-depth listening effort known as "114 in 114." Senior department leaders visited with thousands of DSS team members in facilities in every Missouri County in only 84 working days (122 calendar days) to assess and prioritize improvement opportunities. These listening sessions helped identify specific priorities needing attention: growing compensation and workforce resources, improved systemic communication, and enhanced safety and security.
- We worked on enhancing safety for our team members.
In December, DSS launched an initiative to improve safety and security for DSS team members both in state-operated facilities and in the field. The team is tasked with assessing, identifying, prioritizing, resourcing, and implementing substantial improvements to safety and security in 2023. Chaired by Acting Director Knodell, the executive team also includes the Director of OA Division of Facilities, Maintenance, Design, and Construction, the Director of the State Emergency Management Agency, the OA Information Technology Systems Division, and DSS senior leaders. A working group of more than 20 DSS team members from all levels (front-line to senior executives) of all Divisions are working to lead and execute the SAFESmart initiative in 2023.
- We invested in modernizing our workforce.
In 2022, DSS demonstrated a convincing need for modernizing the systems, processes, and capabilities available to our workforce to become more effective, efficient, and supportive to team members. After numerous decades of relatively stagnant investment in technology and customer service systems, DSS received approval to improve, overhaul, and replace a litany of core work support systems including a new case management system for the Division of Youth Services and the Children’s Division (CCWIZ), a comprehensive update and refactoring for child support services, and numerous systems aimed at improving status and enrollment customer service programs, including a customer services portal. In terms of both percentages and the actual number of positions, DSS has implemented more growth in eligible distributed work positions than all other agencies in state government. DSS Leadership continues working to gain OA approval for additional expansions of remote work while ensuring that service delivery quality does not diminish. Approximately 2,462 positions are approved for remote work giving team members more flexibility in their personal lives.
- We met department-wide staffing shortages head on.
Like many other agencies and employers, in 2022 the Department of Social Services experienced staff shortages. With the help of our dedicated staff, we were able to continue serving Missourians and work to expand our workforce by increasing the frequency of hiring events where immediate interviews and 261 job offers were offered. Our communications team also created a recruitment toolkit for teams across the state so they could host events as needed. We also feature a new interactive jobs map that allows the user to search for job openings by county, job type, division, and connects directly to the job opening in MO Careers. We also focused on creating relationships with local colleges to host career days to help recruit new and upcoming college graduates.