Joinder’s audit review positive

The Lycoming-Clinton Joinder Board got an overall stamp of approval in its annual audit by Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, of Pittsburgh, which examined finances and compliance.

The audit looked at all Joinder programs: Children and Youth, Mental Health-Intellectual Disabilities, Early Intervention, HealthChoices and the Human Services Development Fund.

There was one finding in the Mental Health-Intellectual Disabilities program, a “human error” that involved an employee evaluating a young child to need speech therapy when the child did not, HealthChoices Administrator Deborah Duffy said. It was a matter of incorrectly adding how the child scored in the evaluation, she said. The staff since have been retrained.

That was the only error found in the $42 million program, Duffy said.

All else remained the same as last year, except a revenue increase of $900,000 for HealthChoices, and a corresponding expense of the same amount, said CPA Cory W. Johnson, managing partner of the auditing company.

In other matters, the board approved rate revisions issued by the state for Intellectual Disabilities programs, including: Companion Services; Home and Community Habilitation; Transportation Services; Respite Services; Family Aide; and the monthly administration fee per client. Some rates increased while others decreased, balancing out to keep the contract amount the same as last year at $75,000, Duffy said.

As some of these services allow families to hire their own staff, Lycoming County Commissioner Tony Mussare questioned if it allows room for any fraudulence. While the system is not foolproof – the families sign off on services provided, which is crossed-checked with the plan – no fraudulent activities have been found, Duffy said. About 30 to 35 families use the service.

In the budget reports, Duffy said the budget has stabilized from last year’s 10-percent state funding reduction, balanced by not filling certain secretarial positions. Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz asked if that downsizing hurts services.

“It’s still tight, but we’re managing,” Duffy said.

On the Children and Youth side, Mark Egly, county Children and Youth Services administrator, said they’re 8 percent under budget.

In other business, there will be criminal justice-related training for the Clinton County Correctional Facility May 6, and training on May 8 for Clinton County police departments, at locations to be determined. Duffy said this training is important for law enforcement to ensure people with mental health or intellectual disabilities get the most appropriate treatment.

“We want the police to call us and if possible, we can send a caseworker to do initial assessment,” Duffy said. Those with mental illness need treatment, as they decompensate in jail, she said.

Mussare said taking these extra steps can decrease unnecessary incarceration rates, and Smeltz said the training will pay for itself.