DHS braces for possible cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DHS braces for possible cuts

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by John Wilmer

MANCHESTER (KWWL) -- The Iowa Department of Human Services is bracing for some major cuts. Charles Krogmeier, the Director of DHS says the agency may have to cut 500 jobs, close wards at some institutions, and handle fewer adoptions.

The Director of DHS Krogmeier say of the possible 500 positions to be cut, 60 percent would be from field operations, which could greatly impact those Iowans who depend on services provided by the Department of Human Services.

Shirl Meyer is the income maintenance supervisor for the Department of Human Services Manchester office. Her employees deal with food assistance, Title 19, and several other programs. She says things are already busy, but technology may improve things in the future.

"We feel we are already at bare minimum staff. However, we are trying to work more efficiently. We have a couple of things on the horizon. One of those being electronic case files so we won't have these hard cases any longer and everything will be on the computer system," said Meyer.

These filing cabinets might be a thing of the past, but for now they will stay and they may grow in numbers for each case worker.

"We've heard case loads could rise to as high as 700 cases per worker and that I guess is very scary to all of us here. We're concerned about providing quality customer service to our clients and accuracy as well," said Meyer.

The final plan for DHS might not be finalized for a couple of months, but Meyer is hoping for the best.

"I'm hoping ultimately in the end the layoffs will be fewer then they are projecting at this point. It's been pretty doom and gloom as far as what we have heard so far," said Meyer.

Meyer also says the early retirement package could reduce the number of employees who are cut. However, with the early retirement the Department of Human Services will be losing a number of very experienced workers.

Democratic legislative leaders say their budget for the next fiscal year would cut spending for health and human services by $173 million dollars. The target budget is $954 million, compared to the current budget of $1.1 billion.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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