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Audit shows deficiencies within child agency

A state audit of Child Protective Services accuses the agency of failing to investigate complaints of abuse in group homes and treatment centers in the required time frame.

The state auditor general’s report also found gaps in CPS record-keeping that have allowed treatment-center employees with substantiated complaints of child abuse to get new jobs in group homes, where they have committed further abuse.

In one case, auditors found that a boy in a treatment center alleged that a staffer had abused him. Because information about the abuse was never entered into a CPS database, the staffer was able to get a job at a second group home and abused another child, the audit found.

The staffer was working at a third group home before CPS realized a problem existed.

Melanie Chesney, director of performance audits for the auditor general, said the staff member no longer works with children.

Chesney refused to release the employee’s name or other details about the case, saying it would violate department policy.

The Department of Economic Security, the state agency overseeing CPS, agreed with the audit’s findings and said it would implement changes to address the problems.

State law requires CPS to complete an investigation of any alleged child abuse at a congregate-care facility within 21 days and enter their findings into a database.

Since 2007, the Office of the Auditor General found CPS completed its investigations on time in only four out of 147 cases, or 3 percent. More than half of the division’s reports took another one to six months to complete.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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