The New Road | Proposal 6: Take Action on Complaints and Correct Errors
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."
6. Take Action on Complaints and Correct Errors
Even though the Office of the Child Advocate has been presented to the public as an entity that holds DCYF accountable, for two important reasons that is not the case. First, the Office of the Child Advocate can only make recommendations to DCYF and has no authority to force them to take action. Second, is that even though the Office of the Child Advocate was designed as an independent, bipartisan agency with the ability to access whatever information and records were necessary for them to make accurate recommendations and assessments, the NH Attorney General has been ignoring the spirit of this important agreement and mandate and is purposely making it difficult for the Office of the Child Advocate to fulfill its responsibilities.
Currently, no entity truly has oversight over DCYF’s decisions, including the DHHS Ombudsman, despite the appearance to the public that they are accountable to another office or agency. This, ultimately, is useless in helping people navigate the system and correct errors before they result in fatal flaws that permanently scar families and financially cost the state due to litigation.
We call for legislation that affirms the Office of the Child Advocate's ability to complete their duties without impediment, and that goes further by imbuing the Office with additional authority to direct DCYF to take specific actions in order to protect children and families. If DCYF was capable of fulfilling their own mandates without oversight, the creation of the Office of the Child Advocate would not have been necessary, and we would not be in the predicament that we are regarding the flaws in our current system. DCYF has proven that they require formal and authoritative oversight and that is an important step towards accountability and reform.