Contract approved for review of child abuse reports

Jun 08, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

On Wednesday the Executive Council approved a contract to review 100 of 1,500 alleged child abuse and neglect cases prematurely closed last year.

Lorraine Bartlett, then-Director of the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), closed the cases in bulk over two days in February 2016.  According to some DCYF employees, the children in those cases were not at risk, and Bartlett’s action freed up caseworkers’ time to focus on other reports.  Others say that there was pressure to close cases that needed more investigation.

The $82,000 contract to review the cases goes to Eckerd Youth Alternatives, a Florida-based nonprofit that provides child welfare services.

The contract has its own critics.

First, some argue that 100 is not a large enough number of cases. 

Jeff Meyers, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said the state may ask Eckerd to review more cases if necessary.  The 100 cases will also include several cases identified as especially high risk.

The Executive Council also questioned the selection of Eckerd Youth Alternatives after the Concord Monitor reported that foster children were forced to sleep in the offices of an Eckerd affiliate in Florida.

“I don’t like the idea of having to depend on the Concord Monitor, no offense to the Monitor, to learn this about contractors,” said Councilor Andru Volinsky.

“Like many of the organizations that serve child welfare at some point they are typically touched by a serious incident,” said Christine Tappan, the new head of DCYF. “There is an intention that I have seen on Eckerd’s part to understand and continuously improve.”

Do you have an opinion on the contract with Eckerd to review prematurely closed cases for DCYF?  Share your opinion in the comments below.

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