DENVER – Denver Human Services is doing a better job of documenting appropriate background checks and measuring the impact of its programs after a city audit found flaws in the Child Welfare Division.
A follow-up report from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien found the agency has made all the changes recommended in the original 2017 audit to help ensure the success of programs intended to help at-risk children. Auditor O’Brien applauded the agency’s efforts.
“DHS should be commended for thoroughly responding to our audit and improving its operations,” Auditor O’Brien. “This is a sign that the audit process works and that working closely with agencies to identify areas of concern can truly make our city a better place.”
The original audit in October 2017 found Denver Human Services needed to do a better job of documenting that it had done required background checks for employees working with children. Since then, the agency has revised its internal background check policy to clearly identify which types of background checks are required for all types of job candidates.
The new policy specifically says when these checks should be done, how often they should occur and who is responsible for making sure they are completed. This kind of accountability will be essential in ensuring the people working with at-risk children are cleared to do so.
“DHS acted quickly to make this important change to background check policy and documentation,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I’m pleased to see such whole-hearted acceptance of my recommendations and good-faith efforts to make improvements.”
The original audit also found poor tracking and criteria for success in evaluating two new programs – the Automatic Assessment for Vulnerable Children and the Prevention Services Program. The first program is used to assess referrals associated with children considered more vulnerable, specifically those under the age of six with a history of prior referrals. The program was put in place in response to a series of child fatalities in the Denver area. The Preventions Services Program is a voluntary program that provides participating families with an assigned program caseworker who connects the family to needed resources.
Since then, the Department of Human Services developed a process and more extensive criteria for when to apply the Automatic Assessment for Vulnerable Children policy. The department also identified other relevant data points to use in evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
The Department of Human Services also updated its policies and procedures for the Prevention Services Program to include eligibility for the program, the process for contacting families, documentation standards and guidance for supervisory oversight.
The Department of Human Services implemented every recommendation from our audit. The department’s management and staff showed remarkable diligence in preparing extensive quality improvement plans and documentation to show the changes they made as a result of our audit.