Civil Rights Crisis
in NH History"
-NH Business Review
Over the last several years, DCYF has had multiple children die in their care, has kept children with adults who were sexually abusing them, settled a lawsuit brought by a whistle-blower, and has lost track of children in their care who were sent out of state. These are just the incidents that made the news. Every day families are suffering due to decisions made by DCYF that are not made using currently accepted best practices. Few resources and paths of recourse exist to allow families to push back on questionable choices made by the Division, and truly have their concerns heard.
The DCYF Problem
As almost anyone who has been involved with the NH Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) can attest, DCYF regularly proves it is incapable of creating situations and solutions to family issues that keep children safe and leave families better than they found them. This is substantiated by several independent audits of DCYF that have occurred since 2015, which have found the Division failing in almost every metric. Reasons for this include lack of funding, lack of a qualified and appropriately trained work force due to insubstantial pay, an influx of children into the system, and an institution that is more concerned about protecting itself than addressing true change and transparency.
While you may have seen in the news and press releases from the Department of Health and Human Services that DCYF is making positive changes, families involved with the system, professionals who must work with the system, and state legislators fielding complaints from constituents about the Division all have stories that paint a different picture. This is not to say that zero progress has been made, but to illustrate that the rate of change occurring compared to the rate of change that is needed to protect children are not on the same trajectory. Indeed, the latest data released in the annual report from the Office of the Child Advocate also finds that DCYF has quite a ways to go before the transformative change that is necessary to keep children and families reliably safe is achieved.
The problem is that children and families in NH really do need help. However, the agency tasked with doing this is unable to reliably do so. The New Road Project hopes to start changing that.
THE HARD TRUTH
NH DCYF has failed every independent audit it has undergone since 2015. A 2018 audit by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services found that DCYF was "substantially out of compliance with protecting children from abuse and neglect."
As of 2015 in NH, 3/1000 kids were found to have substantiated abuse and neglect. Every other New England state has a rate of substantiated abuse and neglect of 7/1000 or 15/1000. This means NH DCYF identifies abuse and neglect less than two-five times the rates of our neighboring states.
DCYF workers have an average of 44 cases per worker. The nationally accepted standard is 12.
DCYF has a troubling history of failing to protect children and being transparent to the public. Click here for a timeline of a history of DCYF's failures since 2015.