Two top officials of the D.C. Department of Human Services said yesterday the city will not cut social service programs this year in Mayor Marion Barry's overall effort to avert a projected $110 million deficit.
The mayor is expected to ask Congress later this year for authority to raise the spending ceiling for the Department of Human Services and several other agencies, while making sharp reductions in other areas to try to balance the budget.
"We're doing cost avoidance more than savings," social services commissioner Audrey Rowe told a group of about 100 welfare recipients and representatives of private social agencies at the District Building.
"Services will remain at the same level through fiscal 1983," she added. "We won't reduce any services . . . and there won't be much change in 1984."
An aide to City Council member Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), who attended the meeting, said that spending by the department appeared to be out of control. "They're in trouble and they know it," the aide said.
Ernest Hardaway, commissioner of health, said that while the city intends to terminate contracts with some private health vendors at the end of the year, "The beneficiaries will continue to receive the same services."
However, the city plans to step up efforts to weed out ineligible recipients of Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC), be stingier in awarding contracts to private social agencies, and begin next fall to impose fees at city health clinics for patients who can afford to pay or who have medical insurance.
The budget for the current fiscal year, which began last Oct. 1, included $333.1 million for the department of human services. Barry revised the department's spending estimate to $336 million in January, primarily to take into account foreseen increases in Medicaid costs.
Rowe said yesterday that the department has embarked on several management innovations to try to minimize spending programs, including setting up a task force that will closely investigate the financial condition of AFDC recipients as part of a routine review of their continuing eligibility for aid.
Another team will examine the level and per capita cost of services to D.C. residents provided by city contractors, she said. And the department is trying to reduce the time that low-income families must stay in emergency shelter before they are relocated to public housing.
Although Barry has rejected his transition team's recommendations to charge fees for a wide range of social services, the administration plans to impose a sliding scale of fees at 15 city-operated health clinics beginning Oct. 1. The fees are expected to raise about $1.8 million in fiscal 1984.
Hardaway appeared angered when a participant in the meeting criticized the city for its plan to cut off funds to two free children's clinics that are operated by Children's Hospital in Adams-Morgan and Shaw.
He denied that the Adams-Morgan clinic would be closed and said that District employes would assume responsibility for providing health care to infants and their mothers in both the Adams-Morgan and Shaw areas.