PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Officials said the troubled Department of Children, Youth and Families will undergo an overhaul following years of mismanagement that led to budget deficits.
A 30-page audit released Thursday by RI DCYF revealed the agency is in desperate need of restructuring. When DCYF Director Janice DeFrances retired in January, the agency was about $16 million over budget.
Gov. Gina Raimondo and state officials announced a “turnaround plan” to improve services and implement stronger financial controls at the state child welfare agency. Officials said the agency is plagued by a lack of coordination and a failure of leadership.
“The governor came in and said ‘we need to act on those,'” said Elizabeth Roberts, Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Gov. Raimondo directed Roberts and the Chief Strategy Officers to reorganize the agency. The audit identified a lack of purchasing controls, budgeting, and a fractured system.
“Well, it was a lot about how we don’t contract well, how we don’t manage our finances well, things that we knew but the audit gives us some very clear changes we need to make,” Roberts said. “We’ve already made a number of them and we have a time table to make the rest.”
Now, the Ocean State is teaming up with nationally renowned organizations – the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Annie E. Casey Foundation – to provide free support and help to DCYF, so it can improve overall care for children and families.
“They’re helping us rebuild that organization, focus on quality, get the management tightened up, and really have a lot of hope for the future of the agency and services for kids,” Roberts said.
In the audit, the goals are clearly outlines with a completion date. As Roberts mentioned, some of the goals have already been met.
The latest date set to complete the improvements is October 31 of this year.