Rhode Island Clarifies Efforts to Render Speedier Decisions on DD Services

Rhode Island’s Executive Office of Human Services (EOHHS) responded Tuesday, July 12, to questions fromDevelopmental Disability News about a backlog in pending applications for adult developmental disability services at the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (Click here for related article) .

 Here are the questions and the responses, emailed Tuesday morning by Sophie O’Connell, EOHHS Deputy Communications Director. 

Q: What is the current size of the backlog?  

A: There are currently a total of 232 cases pending eligibility. (The backlog includes all cases that are pending eligibility. These cases can be pending for 2 days or 2 years -- they are all together in the same list.) Out of that list 169 are between 1/1/92 and 12/31/99. Only 63 applicants were born before 1/1/92.

 Q: Why wasn't it (the backlog) acknowledged in the narrative about the work of the eligibility unit?  

A:The narrative was intended to supplement the communications plan and give some context to our review of the Department’s eligibility practices and how we are making improvements to ensure eligibility determination is conducted in a timely manner. We particularly wanted to communicate our commitment to taking the steps needed to reduce the backlog and ensure access to services and supports for this population. Like any communications plan, the document is a living document, and we can continue to adjust it as our work progresses. 

Q: What are plans for eliminating the backlog?

A:The LEAN exercise described in the communications plan resulted in several recommended changes to the eligibility determination process, which are laid out in the plan. We are evaluating the recommendations and moving decisively to eliminate the backlog. 

Q: How many applications are pending now from 16 year olds, 17 year olds and 18 year olds?  

A: As of today there is one application pending for a 16 year old. There are four applications pending for 17 year olds, and 21 applications pending for 18 year olds. We have started our work to eliminate the backlog by focusing first on students who are closer to turning 21, as we have more time to make eligibility determinations for teenagers.

 Q: How many decisions did the eligibility unit make in the last three months in the 17 to 24 year-old group?

 A: We determined the eligibility of 71 cases in the last 3 months of individuals between 17 and 24. 

Q: Why were there no determinations of eligibility for 17 year olds or 18 year olds in the last 12 months? 

 A: We focus on student applications and prioritize those students who are closest to needing adult services. We review cases in date of birth order starting with the students closest to turning 21 and note any student who is leaving school early. That is why most of the cases we have reviewed so far are of 20 and 19 year olds. We will review applications from younger students in an emergency situation, usually when they meet the criteria for critical residential need. 

Q: Please also resolve the discrepancy between the second bullet on page 15 of the communication plan - that applicants who need to submit more info will be given 60 days to do so, and the third bullet, which says they have 45 days to do so.  

A: We will give applicants who have not completed long standing applications 90 days to complete their application (with a reminder at 45 days). The 90 day policy provides a needed framework to administratively close applications that are pending but not proceeding, so we can distinguish between a true backlog of active applications and those that are no longer active. However, it’s important to note that any applicant who has not completed an application can reapply and complete the process at any time.