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Another lousy audit report for DCFS

Friday, Aug 23, 2019

* The Auditor General’s report is here. It covered two fiscal years, ending June 30, 2018. Center Square

An audit of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services found significant deficiencies and noncompliance that a family justice advocate said shows the state agency is failing.

While the number of instances where the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services didn’t follow up on cases in a timely manner was small, Family Justice Resource Center Executive Director Michelle Weidner said each case involved the life of a child. […]

Nearly half the cases reviewed were not completed in a timely manner, the audit found. Nearly two-thirds of the cases didn’t have initial service plans in a timely manner as required, and 80 percent didn’t have integrated assessments completed.

The audit said failure to follow procedures, regulations and state law could result in inadequate care, unauthorized services or misuse of state funds. Findings of incomplete child welfare files were first reported in state audits more than 20 years ago. […]

While the percentage of cases of neglect and abuse that the agency failed to investigate within 24 hours was also a fraction of a percent (116 of 81,229, or 0.14 percent), the audit said failure to respond to such reports could result in further endangerment.

Weidner said people should not let small numbers downplay the significance.

“That fraction of a percent is represented by the cases that people don’t want to talk about,” Weidner said. “The cases like AJ Freund and Ja’hir Gibbons (both cases of DCFS-involved children who died this year) and the cases in which people are facing medically-based wrongful allegations and these cases matter. It matters to the people who are part of that small percentage.”

The detailed audit report by Sikich published by the Auditor General also found in fiscal 2017 three of 250 child death reviews were not conducted within the 90-day time frame as required by law.

“Failure to comply with the Act diminishes the effectiveness of the purposes for which the child death review teams serve and also is noncompliance with duties mandated by the Act,” the audit said.

* CBS 2

The report found there was no documentation of a state central register created for 45 percent of the 60 examined hotline calls.

In other words, if someone calls the hotline about a child, it is supposed to be logged into a central registry – so that if someone calls about the child again, DCFS workers are aware and respond accordingly.

[Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert] said the lack of a prior report could impact the attention a child’s case receives.

The auditor general also found the DCFS has only half of the required number of bilingual caseworkers, which could also impact services.

* Daily Herald

Several other internal control violations were reported, including some related to untimeliness in the department in its requests for federal reimbursements, filing of accident reports, employee performance evaluations, and approval of contracts. Three findings were duplicated in a separate financial audit, also released Thursday.

In a management assertion letter in the report, child welfare leaders said they acted appropriately in the use of state funds, followed accounting and record-keeping procedures, and complied with applicable laws and regulations “other than what has been previously disclosed.”

* Ana Espinosa on a four-part law to help improve the troubled agency

The first part of the law makes sure children in DCFS care are up to date on their immunizations and doctor visits.

Three months before [2-year-old Ta’Naja Barnes’] death, someone called the DCFS hotline to report medical neglect because of lack of immunizations.

The second part requires DCFS to complete a home safety check before a child is returned home. […]

It’s noted in a police report - the home where Ta’naja lived - had no running water and signs of a rodent infestation.

The third part is about aftercare or the services provided to the family for six months after a child is returned home.

This law makes it so the six months starts after the last child is returned.

That’s not what happened in Ta’Naja’s case.

The fourth part ensures state audits are done.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments
  1. - Charlie Brown - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    45 percent of hotline calls unlogged, 50 percent of calls they take a message.

    I don’t think the word “hotline” means what they think it means.


  2. - the Patriot - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    This is the problem with our state. We pass laws and create all these programs to get votes for democrats then underfund them and don’t enforce the law. We have underfunded these social programs for years(before Rauner) because Madigan and Democats want the votes from creating programs, but are not interested in the work it takes to actually help people.

    Most of the Pritzker victories this session is slapping duct tape on problems created by prior democrats.


  3. - Skeptic - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:41 am:

    “then underfund them and don’t enforce the law. ” You’re blaming the Democrats for that?


  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:44 am:

    ===We have underfunded these social programs for years(before Rauner)===

    Narrator: Bruce Rauner funded nothing via budget for two fiscal years, a whole General Assembly.

    To the Post,

    Governors own.

    This governor will need to look at the social service, DCFS, and look at audits and make a priority, not just lip service, press releases, events… and this governor must… must… undo the severe damage of the past 4 years, exacerbating the prior years before the previous governor.

    Campaigns are hard… expensive too.

    Governing is difficult, expensive not only in monies but in the time, policy, and programs.

    This governor can NOT let the sliding of DCFS continue, and must allow significant and some painful changes happen for a better agency and state.

    Governors own, this is the problem this governor must now address.


  5. - Jocko - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    Like OW said, Rauner owns this problem for making a campaign ad against Quinn called “Just Children”…coupled with his hiring of George (’gift cards’) Sheldon.


  6. - Cassandra - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:11 pm:

    What would those “difficult and painful” changes be? Change the director? Oh wait. How many have they had in the last decade.

    If “80 percent” of the integrated assessments were not completed at all, that suggests a problem with the assessment process itself.

    And I’m sorry but 116 out of 80,000 plus doesn’t look that bad to me. Especially since we don’t know how many of those cases lacked sufficient information to make the response, or how many responses occurred shortly after the deadline. The most dedicated responders can get stuck in a traffic jam. And they can’t turn on the sirens.

    And what on earth is a “medically-based wrongful
    allegation.” Is that DCFS’ fault too?


  7. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==We pass laws and create all these programs to get votes for democrats then underfund them and don’t enforce the law. ==

    I’ve read a lot of weird stuff here on Capfax over the years, but this beats all


  8. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    The call center software is supposed to force an entry for each call. At a minimum, calls with no data logged should be flagged for a supervisor.

    Fixing the system needs to include management training. On the job learning is important, but not sufficient. Particularly when the system has few really good managers to serve as examples.


  9. - JT11505 - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    Without a major commitment to shoring up DCFS, both funding-wise and political capital-wise, this isn’t going to get better. Attracting capable staff just gets harder and harder when the only thing anyone hears is the horror stories. Who would want to work at a place like that, if you had other options?


  10. - A Jack - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    I did a tour at DCFS a few years back. One of the big reasons I left was that employees spent most of their time complaining about management and management was always complaining about employees. It was hard to get anything done when people were stopping by all the time to gripe. And mangers were always calling meetings to gripe. I don’t know how you change a culture like that. But a culture like that is not conducive to performing the high quality of work required for DCFS’ mission.


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