offered by

Audit Audit of the Department of Children and Families

This audit examines DCF’s process for reporting critical incidents and fatality investigations. It looked at the period of January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015.

Binder organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: December 7, 2017

Executive Summary

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for the period January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. In this performance audit, we examined DCF’s process for reporting critical incidents and fatality investigations.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

DCF does not effectively identify and investigate all occurrences of serious bodily injury to children in its care.

Recommendation

DCF should establish policies and procedures that require its staff to routinely monitor data from the Medicaid Management Information System in order to ensure that it can identify, and investigate as necessary, medical occurrences that appear to be critical incidents involving children in its care.

Finding 2

DCF does not report all critical incidents affecting children in its care to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA).

Recommendations

  1. DCF should establish a single consistent standard for defining and reporting critical incidents that matches the General Laws.
  2. Based on this standard, DCF should develop policies, procedures, controls, and monitoring activities that allow for adequate oversight of the reporting of critical incidents.

Finding 3

DCF does not report incidents of abuse, neglect, and/or sexual abuse of children in its care to district attorneys’ (DAs’) offices for investigation whenever it is required to do so.

Recommendations

  1. DCF should update its policies and procedures to include clear and consistent criteria and reporting standards and should establish monitoring activities over all parties to ensure compliance with these standards.
  2. DCF should establish monitoring controls to ensure that its staff complies with its policies and procedures for reporting critical incidents to DAs’ offices.
  3. DCF should schedule regular meetings with DAs’ offices to ensure that the incidents it reports are applicable and that the DAs do not need additional information to help with their investigations.

Finding 4

DCF does not complete its fatality investigation reports and submit them to OCA within the established timeframe.

Recommendation

DCF should take the measures necessary to ensure that all fatality review reports are completed and submitted to OCA within the established timeframe. Specifically, DCF should evaluate its current processes, identify opportunities to make them more efficient and less complicated, and update its policies to reflect these changes.

 

A PDF copy of the audit of the Department of Children and Families is available here.

List of Abbreviations

CMR

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

DA

district attorney

DCF

Department of Children and Families

MMIS

Medicaid Management Information System

OCA

Office of the Child Advocate

OSA

Office of the State Auditor

Contact

Phone

Fax

(617) 727-3014

Address

Massachusetts State House
Room 230
Boston, MA 02133

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback