Audit raises concerns over Mass. foster care program - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Audit raises concerns over Mass. foster care program

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- State auditor Suzanne Bump's office says an audit of the Department of Children and Families has uncovered several "significant management deficiencies" at the department.

>> READ: Audit report of the Department of Children and Families <<

Bump produced recommendations as a result of the audit, some of which she says have already been implemented.
 
"DCF front-line workers and managers need better guidance and better tools in order to effectively protect the children entrusted to their care," said Bump via press release Wednesday.

The audit, which covered the period of July 2010 and September 2012, alleges that DCF "incompletely" collected and documented "key information relative to children and their foster placements."

Among the issues raised in the report, Bump claims DCF hasn't been conducting checks for the proximity of Level 2 and 3 registered sex offenders prior to placing children in foster care locations. DCF has said they are now working to access the Sex Offender Registry Information.

"The importance of this audit is not in its tally of how many health checks or background checks are performed, but in DCF's inability to account for them," said Bump.

An additional audit was initiated after DCF couldn't provide auditors with a complete list of foster placements for which background check waivers were issued. The audit is examining DCF's process of granting background check waivers to unlicensed foster homes.

Shortly after the report's release, DCF announced enhancements aimed at increasing child medical visits, documentation of foster care, and employee background checks. They say the enhancements build on recommendations made by the Child Welfare League of America and the state auditor.

Governor Deval Patrick said, "Obviously, the things that are supposed to be done should be done, and when they're not it's the auditor's job to say so and it's our job to make sure that gets corrected."

The audit report was released nearly two months after the DCF told FOX 25 there were 552 active homes caring for children where the guardian has a prior criminal conviction. Under DCF's policy, prospective foster parents may be convicted of crimes like soliciting sex from a minor, motor vehicle homicide, or even armed assault. The rules were last updated in 2008.

A spokesman for DCF told FOX 25 political reporter Sharman Sacchetti that more than half the placements were "kinship placements," meaning the child was taken in by a relative after their current living situation was deemed unsuitable.

DCF Commissioner Olga Roche said, "There are no children in DCF placement living with a sex offender."

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