In response to a recent audit highlighting areas in need of improvement at the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a DCFS spokesman stressed that acting Director George Sheldon is actively working to identify reforms that will help resolve the problems that persisted under the guidance of past administrations.
The audit findings lend credence to recent news reports highlighting problems at the agency. Specifically, Auditor General William Holland’s office found that DCFS took longer than 24 hours to look into nearly 180 abuse or neglect reports in 2014, and almost 150 reports in 2013.
The audit noted that failure to respond to reports of abuse or neglect within 24 hours could result in further endangerment to the child, making this finding particularly troublesome.
Additionally, the Department was slow to review child death cases. Though the Department has 90 days from notification to conduct such reviews, in 2013 it took an average 182 days to review 80 “closed” child death cases. In 2014, 27 reviews were not conducted within 90 days; the average time to review was 172 days.
Auditors noted that failure to review child death cases within the allotted 90-day time frame undermines the purpose of reviewing child death cases.
The audit also identified problems with the Department’s financial reporting process, as well as highlighted issues with the timeliness and adequacy of case file documentation.
As reported in the audit, DCFS officials agreed with many of the audit recommendations and expressed intentions to rectify the issues identified in the review.