Section 5: Organization of department; regional offices; community service areas
Section 5. The commissioner shall establish such divisions, bureaus, sections or other offices within the department as he shall from time to time determine to be necessary or proper for the efficient and economical administration of the comprehensive transitional assistance program.
The commissioner shall establish regional offices at such locations in the commonwealth as he may deem necessary to supervise the system of community service areas and to ensure the development and maintenance of effective administration to provide services therein. Such regional offices shall assist the community service areas in enlisting the interest and participation of the people in the areas.
The commissioner shall establish community service areas which shall be the principal unit through which the department shall administer transitional assistance programs. The purpose of these areas shall be to provide the specific services set forth in section two, and make them readily available to the families, children, the aging, the disabled and the handicapped resident in the area covered. Each area shall provide opportunities for involvement of residents of the area in the work of the area and for representation of the community service area boards established under section seven.
The community service areas shall be of sufficient number to be readily accessible to the people throughout the commonwealth, taking into consideration such factors as geographic boundaries, roads and other means of transportation, including public transportation, population concentration, city, town, and county lines, other relevant community services, and community economic and social relations. The commissioner shall establish branch offices, office hours, or outreach arrangements for applicants and recipients who do not have reasonable access to the office responsible for their cases. The time and place of office hours or outreach arrangements, if any, shall be published and otherwise made available to the public to facilitate visits by the public. The number and location of such community service areas and branches shall be determined by the commissioner, subject to approval by the house and senate committees on ways and means.
Each community service area shall be under the administration, supervision and control of an area director, who shall be appointed by the commissioner and at the time of his appointment shall be qualified, either by having received a masters degree from an accredited graduate school of social work, public administration, business administration, or any other field related to human services or administration and having at least five years of full-time or equivalent part-time professional experience as an administrator or supervisor of social welfare programs or, if the candidate has no such masters degree, by having at least eight years of full-time or equivalent part-time experience in a human services delivery system, five years of which shall have been as an administrator or supervisor of social welfare programs and three years of which shall have been in the delivery of direct services in the department or in a social service agency determined by the commissioner to provide equivalent experience.
The commissioner shall prepare and keep current a general statement of the organization of the department, of the assignment of functions to its administration units, offices and employees, and of the established places at which and the methods whereby the public may receive information, make requests and receive services. Such statement shall be known as the department's description of organization. A current copy of the description of organization shall be kept on file in the office of the state secretary, in the executive office for administration and finance, in the office of the personnel administrator, and in the office of the commissioner.
The commissioner shall establish specialist positions within the department. The specialists shall focus on providing targeted employment and training assistance to recipients that the department determines have a high risk of long term dependence on state benefits and require specialized assistance to achieve economic independence. These recipients shall include teen parents and may include other recipients defined by the department. Each office location shall have specialists. Specialists shall provide focused intervention and assistance to recipients and shall have a caseload of not more than 60 recipients. The commissioner shall: track the progress made by recipients who are receiving targeted assistance under this section in reaching economic independence and transitioning off transitional aid to families with dependent children; track each specialist's success, as determined by the department, in assisting recipients; and annually report the results to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities not later than December 31.