City Desk

Indie Monitor: CFSA Still Struggling

An independent monitor, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, has just released its reporting on the state of D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency. The monitor notes up front that the agency has stabilized since the Banita Jacks fallout and credited Acting Director Roque Gerald with boosting morale. But it notes:

"There are many areas of practice where the District continues to fall far short of the standards required in the LaShawn Amended Implementation Plan (AIP). Additionally, as is documented
in this report, there are multiple examples of inconsistent performance over time, suggesting that long-term sustainability of progress has not been achieved. The Quality Service Reviews
(QSRs), which assess the quality of case practice, continue to show inconsistent results."

The problems that the report highlights are significant.

After giving the report a quick read, we provide a few of the problem areas. Here is what the report states:

*Investigations into allegations of child abuse and/or neglected must be initiated within 48 hours. This means seeing the child or making a good faith effort to see the child within that time frame. CFSA has only met that 48 hour threshold 75 percent of the time.

*Investigations into abuse and neglect must be completed within 30 days. CFSA was only meeting that time threshold in 17 percent of its cases. It has showed improvement. But still the agency is not in the clear here. They have met that threshold 73 percent of the time for investigations opened in January of this year.

*No case worker shall handle more than than 12 cases at any given time. Twelve percent of CFSA's social workers had more than 12 cases. Nine percent had more than 15. The highest caseload found: 21 cases with one worker.

*No cases shall go unassigned for more than five business days. The monitor's report states that there were 35 cases that had not been assigned after five days.

*The monitor found that the number of employees overseeing cases–making sure they are done correctly–is insufficient for proper quality assurance.

Why is this important? The monitor notes that there were 69 children who had been the subject of four or more abuse/neglect cases in the past year, there were 223 children who had been placed in four different homes in the last year, and 83 children placed in facilities more than 100 miles from D.C.

The next hearing in federal court over CFSA is this Thursday.

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