(Memphis) The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury released a performance audit for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Monday. The audit covers the period from May 2007 to October 2013.
The audit reveals problems already exposed by the WREG On Your Side Investigators, such as the failure to notify lawmakers of deaths in their area and a faulty computer system.
However, the report also raises additional concerns about children’s safety.
The report focuses on four areas: Divisions of Child Safety and Child Health, Administrative Functions, Juvenile Justice and the Division of Child Programs.
In regard to the Divisions of Child Safety and Health, auditors noted several findings.
They said investigations weren’t always thorough and documentation was inconsistent.
Auditors reviewed 20 high risk cases. They noted a case where critical files were only available in paper form, and not documented in TFACTS.
They also listed six legislative requirements that DCS had not been meeting.
Under Administrative Functions, while auditors applauded DCS for its changes to TFACTS, they noted the computer system still needs substantial work.
They said users continue to report problems that include uncertainly of reliability.
Another key finding in this area was DCS wasn’t properly documenting background checks on people who come in contact with children like volunteers and resource parents.
Auditors also said DCS continues to face challenges in reducing the caseloads for workers.
In the area of Division of Child Programs, auditors said while DCS has the proper process in place to recruit and approve resource homes, there is a difficulty placing certain types of children in the most appropriate environment.
Under Juvenile Justice, a big problem is case workers not maintaining contact with kids who are deemed delinquent, but don’t go into custody.
WREG spoke with Chief Administrative Officer of Shelby County Juvenile Court Larry Scroggs.
“If they place a child in a foster home, or a group home seting, there’s where the contact needs to be really intensified because those are the children most likely to re-offend who get out of those settings.”
Scroggs says when that contact doesn’t happen, the children often find themselves back in the court system.
DCS concurred with most of the findings in the report and explained why the problems existed and how it’s already fixing them.
Because the agency was undergoing massive change, during the review, auditors included that information and commended some of the progress.
WREG spoke with Representative Johnnie Turner who is a member of the subcommittee and she says they’ve asked DCS to come back in six months to provide an update.
Rep. Turner says they also asked DCS leaders to convert some of their data into statistics and charts that will show measurable progress that’s easy for both the public and lawmakers to understand.