WHO

IS

WATCHING?

Center for

 

Support of

 

Families

The original audit commissioned by Governor Hassan, and the first independent audit ever conducted on DCYF.  Stemmed from the deaths of two children involved with DCYF.  For the audit, 318 assessments were reviewed. 

Key Findings:

  • Reports were often determined unfounded even when evidence of the alleged incidents existed or where DCYF rated the risk of harm to children as moderate to very high unless serious injury already existed

  • Staff and attorneys are not properly trained on the risks of harm to children, substantiating those risks, and taking action when children are at risk.

  •  Even if the DCYF case worker determined a report to be founded, there was a good chance the agency would not file for action in court and the appeals unit would over turn it.

  • There were a number of cases where the risk factors were clearly present but the reports were determined unfounded, even when there were multiple reports alleging the same circumstances over time.

  • Assessments of reports of alleged maltreatment usually were initiated within DCYF’s policy guidelines, but most often remained open well beyond the 60-day limit for completing assessments.

    • –Remain open beyond 60 days because of high caseloads for staff

    • Average of 70 open assessments per worker, and up to 138; recommendation is 12

  • Safety and risk assessment tools and processes were not used to inform safety and risk decisions or actions taken with the families to address identified risk factors.

    • Carried out more as a formality or requirement

  • Families undergoing an assessment for child maltreatment frequently don’t receive the services they need to reduce the risk of harm to their children.

 By the Numbers:

  • 60% of families did not receive an adequate response to assure children were safe

  • 80% of cases were not completed on time

  • 40% of alleged victims were not seen on time

Needs to Improve:

  • Making appropriate collateral contacts with individuals who know the families’ circumstances

  • Ensuring that the DCYF policy to see all children in the household during an assessment is carried out

  • Improving documentation of risk-related and neglect-related issues in assessments

  • Improving the identification of situations where safety plans are indicated to manage risk of harm

Eckerd Connnects

In 2017, an audit was commissioned regarding the closing of 1520 open cases on February 22 and 23, 2016  by DCYF supervisors and authorized by the former DCYF Director.

Key Findings:

 

  • Out of 548 reviewed closures, 342 of the cases went on to be opened for another assessment

  • Since two years had passed since that incident, they recommended that DCYF needed to focus on the 2200 open assessments as of Nov. 2017, because it was too late for the other cases they mismanaged.

Federal Department

 

of Health and

 

Human Services

In 2018, the federal government audited DCYF, and fined them almost $300,000 due to being out of compliance and put them on a 90 Performance Improvement Plan.  The fine has been delayed in order to give DCYF time to use that money to improve the system.

Key Findings:

  • DCYF substantially out of compliance with:

    • Protecting children from abuse and neglect

    • Keeping children safely at home whenever possible

    • Providing children with permanency and stability in their living situations

    • Preserving continuity of family relationships

    • Leaving families with enhanced capacity to provide for children’s needs

    • Making sure children receive adequate services to provide for educational needs, physical and emotional needs

    • Use of statewide information systems

    • Case review systems

    • Providing adequate training to Staff

  • DCYF in compliance with:​

    • Quality Assurance System and Agency Responsiveness to the Community

The Office of the Child Advocate is an independent and impartial state agency to reform New Hampshire's child welfare and juvenile justice system.  They have an annual operating budget of $350,000.  They released their 2018 Annual Report regarding their assessment of DCYF in January 2019.

Key Findings:

  • As of Sept 2018 have 2000 overdue assessments

  • DCYF contracted with an outside agency to clear case backlog, for reasons no one knows they stopped sending cases, and have now accumulated another backlog

  • Case workers have 44 cases/worker

  • Findings substantiated what was found in US DHHS audit

  • Recommending hiring of 109 more caseworkers

  • Update statutes and training to reflect psychological abuse

  • Did not speak to the families of the children who have died on DCYF’s watch in the creating of the Annual Report

  • DCYF does not currently conduct internal reviews into the deaths of children

DHHS' response and the response back from the Office of the Child Advocate will be posted soon, or read them here.

Office

of the

Child Advocate

© 2019 by The New Road Project.

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