|SUMMARY OF:||A Special Review of the Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Children’s Services (OCS) Compliance with Foster Care Reform Laws, Part 1|
Why DLA Performed This Audit
This audit reviews the Department of Health and Social Services’ compliance with House Bill 151 foster care reform laws effective September 5, 2018, or December 4, 2018, including the requirements to search for relatives and family friends, provide training on the reasonable and prudent parent standard, and refer families to community organizations when child protective services are not needed and community services are necessary and available.
The audit concluded OCS procedures do not require supervisors to certify in writing whether a search for relatives and family friends was performed; however, auditors generally found searches were conducted. The audit also found that training regarding the reasonable and prudent parent standard was not consistently provided to foster parents. Further, OCS staff did not formally identify and document foster parent training needs.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, auditors were unable to obtain the documentation necessary to identify whether OCS staff sought parental consent to refer families to community organizations when child protective services were not needed, or for those families that provided consent, whether referrals were timely. Additionally, auditors were unable to calculate the degree families provided consent because OCS staff did not track the referrals when child protective services were not needed.
Findings and Recommendations
- OCS’s director should implement supervisor certification procedures for relative and family friend searches.
- OCS’s director should improve procedures to ensure foster parents and caregivers in residential child care facilities are provided reasonable and prudent parent standard training.
- OCS’s director should consider amending regulations to require written training plans.
- OCS’s director should improve security over access to the Online Resource for Children of Alaska system.