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Caseworkers Lie on Reports, Lose Foster Kids

July 13th, 2009 by flanews

Seventy caseworkers hired by the Department of Children and Families to keep track of foster kids lied about monthly visits.

Some kids went six months without seeing a caseworker. As Whitney Ray tells us, the caseworkers have been fired and DCF is hoping a new GPS system will help keep better track of who is skipping visits.

Over a two year period, the Department of Children and Families lost track of six foster kids and left 14 in dangerous homes. The kids safety was jeopardized because 70 DCF caseworkers were lying about monthly visits. DCF Secretary George Sheldon was outraged when he found out about the lying caseworkers.

I think it is totally unacceptable. We have an aggressive effort with in the agency to investigate and document falsification. I have zero tolerance for that, said Sheldon.

The 70 caseworkers have been fired and could face felony charges. Children Advocates say getting rid of the bad apples doesnt solve the problem.

We have had children that have gone missing. We have had deaths and there is always this big flurry around doing something and generally what is done is not the long term solution that is needed, said Karen Woodall, a child advocate.

Budget cuts and large caseloads are at least partly to blame for the mix up. Child Advocacy groups say caseworkers should handle no more than 15 foster kids at a time. Some DCF caseworkers have more than double that amount.

Secretary Sheldon said a new mobile tracking device will help keep better tabs on caseworkers.

It will go in and say this visit did or did not make it, and then we would also have alerts in that system so that if a visit didnt occur with in the 30th day it would go to the supervisor, said Sheldon.

Caseworkers will begin using the new devices this fall. DCF has a team of investigators charged with uncovering false reports from caseworkers. There are more than six thousand caseworkers in the state, with just 70 caught falsifying documents over a two year period.

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