Assignment – W5 – Cost Benefit Analysis

Please see attachment for instructions and read all the way through. My agency is in the U.S. and is the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). This is for 6 pages.

 

Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis

It is relatively easy to develop alternative solutions for any identified problem. You do have to be careful about leaping into what appears to be an obvious solution. You need to determine which identified alternative best meets the needs and expectations of the community. In this assignment, you will be identifying at least three potential alternatives to resolve the problem you identified in the first assignment. There are a number of factors you need to consider in conducting a policy analysis: realistic options, a cost-benefit analysis, and objectivity.

Realistic Alternatives

At times, you may notice people suggesting an alternative, which everyone knows will be unacceptable. The alternative is often added simply to provide an option that can be easily rejected, with the intention of guiding the decision-making in a specific direction. This should be considered unethical behavior in a public administrator. There will always be diverse views on how to move forward to resolve a problem, based on differing values and perspectives on the issue. You have to try to be objective, providing an unbiased view of how the community wishes to move forward, being open to an approach you might not necessarily support on a personal level. Additionally, you should always include the status quo as one of the alternatives. You might find, at certain times and with certain issues, the status quo might be the best we can hope for at the moment, and therefore it should be considered. Even if we know the status quo may be unacceptable, including it provides a benchmark to use as a contrast and comparison with the proposed alternatives, providing insights into how alternatives might support a more desirable outcome.

Cost-benefit Approach

The classical cost-benefit process emerged from the field of micro-economics. It focuses narrowly on financial costs. It requires finding a means to assign a dollar value to each alternative, and the alternative with the best cost-benefit ratio (i.e., benefits are greater than costs) is selected. Over time, a macro-economic model developed, which included the consideration of non-financial metrics tied to perceptions, values, and other non-monetary measures. You will still try to find an objective means to capture this for assessment, and you may integrate financial metrics such as those used in a micro-economic model. Whatever approach you develop, you will be expected to find objective means to define, measure, and weigh alternatives to determine which one best supports mission success.

Objectivity

It is all too easy to find your personal values affecting your analysis and evaluation of alternatives. It is important you understand and control for your personal values when assessing alternatives, providing an unbiased analysis.

For this assignment, provide a cost-benefit analysis of your proposed alternatives for addressing the problem you identified in the first assignment. The problems and cost issues are identified in Information from Discussion 1 and Information from Discussion 2 in this attachment below. Read those to understand what is needed and conduct this assignment.

Identify and analyze at least three potential alternatives for addressing the problem, providing insights into what specific actions might be taken by the organization to address aspects of the problem. Remember that one of the alternatives must be the status quo.

For each of the identified alternatives, provide a cost-benefit analysis that compares the alternatives to one another using either a microeconomic or macroeconomic model, or a combination of the two, evaluating each of the alternatives in terms of its ability to resolve aspects of the problem.

Analyze how each of the proposed alternatives will or will not serve the needs of diverse groups within the community, providing a discussion of how this should play into decision-making and the selection of an alternative to apply in a real-world situation.

Analyze how each of the identified alternatives would reflect ethical behavior on behalf of the public agency in the conduct of its duties to the community.

Assignment Requirements

Resources: Your ideas must be supported with recent, scholarly sources that are properly cited and referenced in APA style.

Number of pages: Your assignment should be at least 6 pages, double-spaced, excluding the cover page, abstract (if included), and references.

APA style and format: All materials must be submitted in APA style and format (see Faculty Expectations for further information on APA).

o Remember, adherence to APA requires that all statements of objective fact that are not considered common knowledge must be supported by a credible source (using both a citation and a reference).

Font: Times New Roman 12-point.

Introduction and Conclusion: Remember to include both an introductory paragraph and a paragraph of conclusions. This is a fundamental requirement of proper, standard American English.

Information from Discussion 1

The agency I intend to focus my efforts on is the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). Their mission is to engage with families and collaborate with state, local and community partners to protect children from abuse and neglect and to provide child support services (DCS Mission, Vision, and Values). I want to address the overspending that Indianas DCS does every year. They are 100s of millions of dollars over budget every year. I know this is not just a problem for Indiana, but every state.

One thing that I learned working with this agency is that they want to keep referring services to clients and keep them in the system. If they keep their numbers high on active clients in their system every year and overspend the budgeted money, they will and expect to receive more funds the following fiscal year. DCS is by far the largest department with the greatest budget and amount of employees than any other department in the state of Indiana. As of 2017, Indianas rate of children in out-of-home care was about 13 children for every 1,000 in the state and is over twice the national average. In addition to Indiana having a higher number of children in out-of-home care, Indiana also has a higher-than-average number of children being referred to child protection. In 2016, Indianas rate of referral to child protection, calculated as the number of referrals for every 1,000 children in the states population, was 108.2 compared to a national average of 55.6 (Evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services).

References

DCS Mission, Vision, and Values. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://www.in.gov/dcs/2370.htm

Evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services. (2018, June 18). Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://www.in.gov/dcs/files/IndianaEvaluationReportCWGFinal.pdf

Information from Discussion 2

What is the specific problem that your organization will be trying to address? Try to be as specific as possible.

My organization will be trying to reduce the spending by the Indiana Department of Child Services to combat child abuse and neglect. There are a number of issues that create this situation that need addressed. One major that needs to be considered is what is causing the high caseloads in the first place and can these things be spearheaded from the front end to help reduce the number of children entering into the system in the first place. Here are a number of things that need evaluated and are cause for concern (Evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services.):

Only three states have a higher rate of abuse and neglect referrals than Indiana.

Indiana accepts more abuse and neglect reports than the national average.

Only two states had a higher rate of completed child protection assessments than Indiana.

Despite completing more assessments than almost any state, Indiana substantiated only 15 percent of those assessments.

The rate of abuse and neglect reports grew by almost 63 percent from SFY 13 to SFY 17.

55 percent of removals in 2017 were related to parental substance abuse.

DCS barely misses the federal standard for repeat maltreatment

Indianas rate of children in care is 13.0 (per 1,000 children) compared with the national average of 5.6.

Indianas rate of children entering care is 8 (per 1,000 children) compared with the national rate of 3.6. Nearly 45 percent of family case managers have caseloads above the state standard.

DCS supervision standard is 1 to 7+ compared to the national standard of 1 to 5.

There are 530 children in care on the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) wait list for childcare vouchers.

In SFY 2017, DCS spent $24,933,487 on drug testing/supplies and $4,538,182 on drug treatment.

The number of court-involved cases in DCS is more than double the national average.

How is the specific problem you mentioned tied to the organizational mission?

The problem is tied to DCS mission statement, because they job is to provide services to and protect children from abuse and neglect. If we can reduce the amount of reports by ensuring parents have resources and tools to properly parent their children and deal with everyday life. This can potentially reduce the number of reports and cases DCS receives in the first place and eventually reduce the amount of spending and employees needed to make DCS function as it has. Cases that do need DCS attention after this would be handled in a manner to help put them in a place where they will be no more recurring incidences and remove the cases from the DCS system. It is a complicated and very involve process, but it can be done with the proper training, tools, resources, and policies in place.

How might you frame the problem for the policy analysis to make the scope of it more realistic in a real-world setting?

Problems such as the opioid epidemic have contributed to the increased number of families and children in the DCS case management system. If we were to focus and attack the opioid problem from the doctor prescribing the opioid, to the manufacturers, and finally to the patient taking the opioids we can come up with a solution to combat this and thus reduce the numbers that increased the caseloads of DCS due to this problem. Over reliance on a reactive system that uses child removal as the primary approach to address parental addiction will not serve Indiana or its citizens well over time (Evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services.). The idea is to take a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach to these problems.

References

Evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services. (2018, June 18). Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://www.in.gov/dcs/files/IndianaEvaluationReportCWGFinal.pdf

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