Audit report slams Child and Family Services; director says agency needs more resources

The director of Child and Family Services defended her department Monday in front of a legislative interim committee looking into issues at the agency.

Sarah Corbally, director of the agency, told the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee that if her department had enough resources, many of the problems could be fixed.

A legislative audit released in October identified “long-term and systemic management concerns in the areas of documentation, supervisory oversight and the use of management information which the department should take steps to resolve.”

The agency is run by the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

“Absent a decrease in the amount of work we require on an investigation, which we believe would leave children unsafe, I don’t know how you can say this isn’t a resource issue,” Corbally told the committee.

Chairman Rep. Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, asked Corbally how she could blame the problem on resources when the audit identified them as systemic.

“When a worker is carrying a caseload that’s four times the recommendations of an agency like the Child Welfare League of America, if you want to call that systemic, you can,” Corbally answered.

Will Soller, of the Legislative Audit Division, said that audit’s findings — the department’s problems with meeting deadlines set out in state law for responding to reports of alleged neglect and abuse, lack of documenting its work and other problems — can’t be blamed on an increasing workload because the agency isn’t handling more cases.

“Over a sustained period of time it’s a fairly static line” charting the number of children in the agency’s care, Soller said. “ … It’s been a fairly frequent narrative of Child and Family Services that there are an increasing number of reports out there and they are overwhelmed, but we don’t think that’s the whole story.”

CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Helena Independent Record


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