AUSTIN, Texas — The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) will add additional oversight to their community-based care.
This comes after the State Auditor’s Office found two deficiencies requiring immediate attention.
“The Department of Family and Protective Services (Department) had some processes and related controls to monitor its performance-based contracts with Single Source Continuum Contractors (SSCCs) to help ensure that certain contract provisions are being enforced. However, the Department did not provide sufficient oversight of its SSCCs to verify that critical placement information for children in temporary custody and selected health and safety requirements were monitored as required,” the audit report shows.
These issues were given a “priority” rating meaning they could “critically affect the audited entity’s ability to effectively administer the program(s)/function(s) audited. Immediate action is required to address the noted concern(s) and reduce risks to the audited entity,” the report shows.
DPFS oversees child care through two models: legacy and community-based.
For community-based, DFPS contracts with Single Source Continuum Contractors (SSCCs) to provide a community-based approach to helping children and families.
The audit shows DFPS has four contracts: 41 counties in the Texas Panhandle, 30 counties in North Texas, seven counties around Fort Worth and 27 counties in the South Central and Hill Country region.
“The Department did not monitor the SSCCs’ compliance with placement requirements for children in temporary custody,” the report shows.
Placement is based on the needs of the child. The SSCC provides the caregiver the information on how to properly care for the child such as behavioral and medical issues.
The report shows 58% of placement records tested did not have all of the required placement documents. Some documents were either missing or incomplete.
“The Department did not verify the information reported to it by the SSCCs related to providers’ compliance with key health and safety contract requirements,” the report shows.
Instead, DFPS relied only on the information reported by the SSCC.
The State Auditor wrote DFPS should:
"Develop and implement a process to verify that SSCCs are completing and maintaining required placement documents for children in temporary custody
"Expand its annual monitoring reviews to verify the accuracy and completeness of information that SSCCs submit for the monitoring of key contract requirements related to the health and safety of children in the State’s care.
"Ensure that its secondary review of the annual monitoring spreadsheet verifies that (1) all review areas are completed and (2) all issues identified are carried forward to the annual monitoring reports.
"Develop and implement sampling procedures and require staff to follow them when testing payments to provide reasonable assurance that foster families are being paid at least the required minimum rate. These procedures should include details for identifying the population."
DFPS Management responded with agreement.
“While an overall robust review process exists for case management, DFPS will further strengthen the review process of the Case Management Oversight (CMO) review tool to verify required sections of the placement paperwork is also completed and if not, seek corrections from the SSCCs. This process will be implemented in FY23; and staff at both DFPS and the SSCCs will be trained on this review process,” the report shows.
DFPS management told the auditor that the department uses multiple programs to monitor the health and safety of the children placed by the SSCC.
“To address the recommendation, the CBC4 Contract Team has added a verification process to the annual monitoring currently underway to verify the initial medical exam was conducted as required. A process to track annual medical and dental exams is currently being developed by the CBC Contract Team, for use in the annual monitoring procedures for FY23, as the Health Passport system has not proven a reliable source of accurate and or timely information. Finally, the CBC Contract Team has added a verification process to the annual monitoring currently underway to verify the initial licensing criminal background checks have been conducted as required,” the report shows.
The audit report also showed other “medium” rating issues DPFS needs to address. Those include performance reviews and regional case file reviews.