Louisiana Audit Reveals Several Problems With State’s Family Services Organization – American Press

Louisiana Audit Reveals Several Problems With the State’s Family Services Organization

Posted at 8:06 p.m. on Monday, October 31, 2022

By Victor Skinner | The central square

Louisiana’s legislative auditor compared the state’s processes for the Department of Children and Family Services Central Registry to 17 other states for a recent report requested by lawmakers.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack released a report comparing some of the state’s central registry processes to standards in other states as part of an ongoing review of DCFS in the Legislative Assembly.

The processes center on how states determine whether findings of child abuse or neglect are valid, how those involved are notified when they are added to the records, and how individuals can appeal the findings of the agency. In Louisiana, SCR is used for employment authorizations for many jobs, from child care providers, volunteers and contractors, to those hired at state-licensed residential facilities, detention of minors, child protection workers and others.

The analysis found that while 14 of the 17 states surveyed require a preponderance of evidence to validate a claim of abuse or neglect, Louisiana is among three states that use a lower standard of proof. In Louisiana, child protective services investigators work with a supervisor to determine if the evidence “would lead a reasonable person to believe” that abuse exists and was perpetrated by the caregiver.

Auditors note that if a finding is appealed, then DCFS is required to show a preponderance of evidence for the teaching claim found to be valid.

“Although there were 14,604 investigations with valid findings requiring addition to the SCR during calendar years 2019 to 2021, only 1,501 (10.3%) appeals were answered during this period,” according to The report. “This shows that the majority of investigations with valid findings did not have an appeal hearing for an administrative law judge to review the evidence and DCFS decisions based on the standard of preponderance.”

DCFS data shows a total of 51,303 investigationss over the three years that could justify registration in the SCR. These investigations resulted in 14,604 valid conclusions, or 28.5% of the investigations. Of the 1,501 that were appealed, 426 or 28.4% were overturned.

Louisiana is among seven states that consider the nature and severity of valid findings, limit inclusion in the SCR to the most serious offenses, and reduce the length of time individuals with less serious findings remain on the registry .

In Louisiana’s five-tier system, Tier 4 and Tier 5 claims that do not match resulting in an SCR registration accounted for only 6.1% of investigations with valid findings. Just over 9% of these investigations involve the most serious Level 1 cases resulting in death and permanent registration on the SCR, nearly 17% involve Level 2 allegations of serious lack of supervision or serious injury that result in 18 years on the SCR, and 67.7 percent involve moderate lack of supervision or moderate injury resulting in seven years on the SCR.

Of a total of 15,547 investigations with valid findings from 2019 to 2021, 10,529 were Level 3, 2,626 were Level 2, and 1,449 were Level 1.

Another 942 were Level 4, and only one case was investigated with valid Level 5 results.

All of the states surveyed in the report send notification letters to those listed on the SCR, including 10 that use certified mail. Louisiana uses regular mail.

“According to DCFS, sending notices by certified mail could result in individuals avoiding their delivery, which would mean that their appeal rights would never be exhausted and they could never be added to the SCR” , according to the report.

Louisiana is also among states that detail requirements in notification letters, though citations and legal references can make it difficult for those who receive them to “fully understand how placement on the SCR might impact their employability.” , their volunteering opportunities, etc. file an appeal,” the listeners wrote.

Louisiana’s 20-day deadline for filing an appeal is similar to other states, although Louisiana is only one of five states surveyed that involve an administrative hearing through a state agency. different.

Like six other states studied, Louisiana only adds people to the registry after appeal rights have been exhausted.

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