DHS acknowledges problems with background checks for child welfare caseworkers

DENVER - A report from Denver's city auditor says documentation for caseworkers' background checks is lacking in the department of child welfare.

The Department of Human Services responded to the findings by saying all child welfare employees complete background checks annually. DHS says they have addressed any documentation issues as a result of the audit. 

A report from city auditor Timothy O'Brien states "Denver Human Services can’t show that all its child welfare caseworkers have passed background checks or prove that two new policies are effective."

In a sample of 60 caseworkers reviewed by the auditor's team, 57 percent had "missing or incomplete" documentation of background checks, the report says.

The auditor's office says during its review, the Child Welfare Division couldn't provide auditors with "requested background check documentation for some child welfare caseworkers and their supervisors."

The report also says internal documentation did not consistently indicate which checks were required and which were completed.

In a response, Denver Human Services Executive Director Don Mares released a statement agreeing with all the findings and recommendations of the audit. 

Mares' statement continued:

"Regarding the auditor’s concerns about the documentation of child welfare employee background checks, we are confident that all child welfare workers have current completed background checks and have addressed any documentation issues. All child welfare employees receive annual background checks which exceeds what is required by either the city or state."

The audit also detailed recommendations on the effectiveness of two DHS programs, the Automatic Assessment of Vulnerable Children Policy and the Prevention Services Program. 

You can read the entire audit here.

According to the report, both programs were not at full potential due to lack of training, policy development, and measurement. 

In response, DHS says both programs help hundreds of families each year. 

DHS says it has already implemented changes to address documentation of background checks and mini-grants and is already working to make improvements in gathering data on the other two programs highlighted in the audit. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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