Year End Reflections

2023: Year End Reflections

With the return of Medicaid Redetermination in April 2023DHS, in partnership with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and HealthSource RI (HSRI), quickly understood the task for 350,000 individuals in Rhode Island would  be one of the most important  undertakings to address. This would be the first time in three years such an effort would take place, with the end of the pandemic.

Lasting for a year, the plan included redetermining eligibility, going out in the community to provide education on this effort, and partnering with local community organizations. HealthSource RI, EOHHS, and managed care organizations all played an important role in the successful implementation of the strategy, creating innovative ways to educate, connect, train, and reenroll eligible Rhode Islanders.

Through the collective efforts of staff and DHS leadership, the agency saw 2023 as a year to implement creative solutions to address administrative and operational improvements. From greatly improving application processing, to the opening document scanning centers, and the opening of a new public-facing office on Holden Street, in Providence, DHS made great strides in enhancing access and helping the lives of many in the Ocean State.

Other highlights include:

  • DHS launched the Child Care Assistance Program for Child Care Staff pilot, which was approved in the FY 24 budget, and expands CCAP eligibility for educators and staff who work at DHS licensed child care sites needing affordable child care. The program expands income eligibility to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), up from 200%, for eligible staff. 
  • The Department also prioritized expanding the Child Care Assistance Program for college students. For college students striving to attend classes while raising a child, this program provides essential support and builds economic security for their families. Eligible students enrolled in associate or bachelor’s degree programs at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), Rhode Island College (RIC), or University of Rhode Island (URI) may qualify for benefits. The program directly reimburses the chosen provider up to a specified amount for child care services, with applicants contributing no more than 7% of their household income. 
  • In partnership with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC), the Step Up to Child Care WAGE$® Program (WAGE$) pilot has awarded 276 early childhood educators education-based supplements totaling $847,812. Step Up to WAGE$ provides education-based salary supplements to teachers, directors, and family childcare providers working with young children. 
  • DHS launched the first document scanning centers in 2023. The document scanning centers provide customers with a way to quickly scan and submit requested documents for their case, which helps expedite the in-person process by reducing lobby wait times and improving the customer experience. Most customers are in and out in about 15 minutes. 
  • DHS opened a regional, customer-facing office located at 125 Holden St., in Providence, on December 18. This customer-facing DHS office is conveniently accessible through public transportation and provides an array of customer services , including benefit applications, transactions, interviews, and a document scanning center. 
  • DHS in partnership with EOHHS and HSRI successfully restarted Medicaid renewals for more than 350,000 Rhode Islanders. This is the first time in three years the state has undertaken Medicaid redeterminations. Redeterminations are now more than halfway through the process at the end of 2023.
  •  DHS launched the Elderly and Disabled Simplified Application Project, which simplifies the application process and allows for a longer eligibility period for SNAP applicants and households that meet the following criteria: all members of the household are age 60 or older, receive disability payments regardless of age, or are a combination of both, no household members have income from working. 
  • Expanded RI Works eligibility to include pregnant individuals at the onset of pregnancy, rather the beginning of third trimester.
  • With General Assembly approval, DHS invested $3 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to increase access to early learning opportunities.
  • The agency continued to distribute child care retention bonuses to child care staff and early educators.
  • DHS increased the monthly, personal needs allowance from $20 to $45 for individuals on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) living in an assisted living facility.