`Community-Based Care' Leaves Out Local Input From The Tampa Tribune
`Community-Based Care' Leaves Out Local Input: From The Tampa TribuneAlvin Wolfe, retired and still hard at work.GB
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While I agree with your editorial ``Time Again For Change At DCF'' (July 24), there is one sentence that cries out for correction: ``Community-based care controlled by local decision makers seems to be working - cutting costs and better serving children and families.''
`Community-Based Care' Leaves Out Local Input
Published: Jul 29, 2004
It is not the case that local decision makers do control ``community- based care.''
Despite the feel-good label given to the reorganization in 2000 of the Department of Children and Families, that restructuring actually removed child protection, foster care and adoption systems from local control and centralized them in Tallahassee through the same sort of contractual system that the secretary and his aides are being chastised about right now. The service provider must please the secretary to get the best contract to provide child protection, foster care and adoption services in a particular local area.
There is no local control. There is only the slogan ``community-based care.''
The Florida Health and Human Services Board Inc., a statewide nonprofit organization of volunteers, has been studying this issue ever since the Legislature abolished the local district health and human services boards in 2000. Getting communities involved in community-based care is our major goal. Another is to work toward integration of health and human services.
Believe me, there is no local control over these contracts, and the service providers themselves are not necessarily local. In the Suncoast region, Sarasota County comes closest to the ideal of community-based care. DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Pasco are simply not organized locally to defend their own community when the contracts are being let.
A final point: One reason the Tribune believes that community-based care is controlled by local decision makers is that these decisions are not being made in public, so you do not know how they are made. Some years ago, all such decisions using public funds for meeting public needs were made in the open - Government in the Sunshine. Sadly, the decisions are now largely made behind closed doors, even though the sign on the door may read ``Community-Based Care.''
Alvin W. Wolfe, Ph.D., of Lutz is chair of the Florida Health and Human Services Board Inc.
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