What's New at DHS
Governor Gina Raimondo has appointed Chief Operating Officer, Eric J. Beane, to serve as Acting Director for DHS and Chief Information Officer, Chris Antonellis, to serve as Acting Director of the state's information technology division. Eric J. Beane will oversee the challenges related to the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) system and develop a plan and timeline for resolution. Chris Antonellis will proceed to govern the operations of the department's UHIP integrated eligibility system.
Connect to the Integrated Eligibility System Updates web page for future details.
Please join DHS and other members of your community to discuss the implementation of our new benefits eligibility system going live the summer of 2016. Come learn how this new system will cut wait times at our local offices and strengthen the worker and client relationship providing a faster, more streamlined way of business.
Click Community Meetings to view the list of dates and locations.
The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) has contracted with Child Trends to conduct a statewide study of BrightStars. This study is part of Rhode Island’s Early Learning Challenge grant, and it will help DHS continue to strengthen BrightStars. Child Trends will randomly select 100 BrightStars child care centers from all star levels to invite to be part of this study; Child Trends staff will gather data on program characteristics, quality, and children’s skills. The study is completely voluntary; Child Trends will reach out to center directors via mail, e-mail, and phone to share information about the study so directors can decide whether their centers will participate. Centers will be visited three times throughout the 2015-2016 school year for data collection.
No one outside of the Child Trends team (e.g., no one from DHS, RIDE, or BrightStars) will know who is participating in the study, and the researchers will not share information about any specific program or individual. At the end of the study, Child Trends staff will write a report describing the results at an overall level. Child Trends and DHS hope that programs at all star ratings will participate so they will have a broad picture of the system.
Please do not hesitate to contact Jael Lopes at DHS at email@example.com or (401) 462-6410 or Amy Blasberg, the Child Trends study coordinator, at (240) 223-9240 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the study.
The RI Department of Human Services received great news for families seeking heating assistance for the upcoming winter. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), released its remaining FY 2015 Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds and Rhode Island was able to receive a sizeable share. As a result, federal funding for Rhode Island's heating assistance program has been increased by 15% for 2015, the highest percentage increase in the country. Last year, the State received over $27 million in home energy assistance program funds.
The Rhode Island Home Energy Assistance Program (RIHEAP) helps income-eligible families pay their energy bills with an annual grant to keep them warm and safe in the winter. DHS administers these funds through a very successful partnership with our Community Action Agencies. The successful growth of this program and its funding, is a testament to the support received from our Congressional delegation, our colleagues in state government, and our local partners.
Every year, many Rhode Islanders are in need of heating assistance. Thus, it is important to have a successful energy assistance program that keeps people warm and reduces the risk of health and safety problems caused by unsafe heating practices. The program helps approximately 35,000 income-eligible households annually.
Melba Depeña Affigne, Director
July 7, 2015
Dear DHS Staff,
The work we do at DHS is crucial to the well-being of thousands of Rhode Islanders, yet we seldom receive the recognition our efforts truly deserve. So today, it is with great pleasure that we announce an amazing accomplishment. After four years of discouraging results, we've turned a corner with our SNAP error rate and will receive a bonus from the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) instead of a penalty!
The FNS will not only award Rhode Island a high performance bonus in the amount of $800,901, but has relieved us of the "at-risk" portion of the FFY2013 SNAP penalty, saving us an additional $341,675. So many of you have had a role in the reduction of the SNAP error rate, and I commend you on your willingness to adapt to a new way of doing business as we rolled out our BPR and continue to enhance the process. Your dedication to SNAP, the Department of Human Services, and Rhode Islanders is praiseworthy.
We can't tell you how pleased we are to be able to report such positive news about our Department and its hardworking staff. Once again, I'm reminded how much I appreciate your continued efforts to improve DHS's operational efficiency and ensure that our customers' experiences are positive.
Melba Depeña Affigne, Director
June 29, 2015