The New Road | Proposal 7: Holding Leadership Accountable
Explore critical details about the reasoning behind each proposal and the intended effect to increase transparency and effectiveness of NH's Child Protection System.
Read the long term Cost Analysis statement associated with leaving NH's Child Protection System "as is."
7. Holding Leadership Accountable
Either Commissioner Meyers, the head of DHHS and therefore DCYF, knew that there were issues at DCYF which he chose to ignore until they were made public, or he had no idea what was happening at one of his most important and visible agencies for several years. Commissioner Meyers was aware of the closing of the 1,520 assessments in a 48 hour period back in 2016. However, he waited to dismiss the Director until it was made public in 2017. His actions in this scenario, and many others, are ethically questionable and indicative of a leadership failure. Where does the buck stop, if not with the head of the agency?
The current situation with DCYF is NH’s own Flint, Michigan lead poisoning crisis regarding how it is being handled by public officials. A message needs to be sent that what has happened is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, and the public needs to regain trust in DHHS that those responsible for overseeing the damage to this system will not continue to have the power to make formative decisions for NH citizens.
To that end, we believe that Commissioner Meyers and all DCYF leadership, including middle management, need to undergo a job audit and investigation into their personal knowledge and conduct surrounding the events of the past few years. As a result, appropriate disciplinary action be should be taken, up to and including dismissal. We recommend that the Office of the Child Advocate be involved with these audits to ensure that best practices and an independent eye are guiding recommendations.
While we understand that personnel matters must remain confidential regarding specific employees, the public needs to know that when poor, unethical, or illegal decisions are made by DYCF that staff is being held appropriately accountable. The state of Rhode Island recently put out a press release detailing the dismissal of several case workers after the death of a child in their care. There is no reason that NH cannot do the same. This is also not to say that case workers are always, or should be, the only ones held responsible when things go wrong. Often they are at the mercy of their superiors regarding decisions made. Please see our page for DCYF employees here to read more about our stance on this.