Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) employees did not abide by their own policies as they documented and investigated certain complaints, and those lapses could have endangered the children they were supposed to help.
This, according to an audit that Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.
“Department management did not ensure CCS [Child Care Services] staff consistently followed policies when performing and documenting investigations. Department management did not ensure CCS staff conformed to the established timeframes for investigating complaints promptly and obtained and maintained relevant documentation, and department management did not ensure CCS supervisors performed sufficient review and oversight of the process,” according to the audit.
“Parents and the public rely on the division to respond promptly and appropriately to reported complaints about childcare providers. When management does not ensure staff follow established policy, management increases the risk that children may be placed in potentially harmful or unsafe conditions while in the care of their childcare providers.”
Specifically, Comptrollers called out the DHS for the following:
• For seven out of 40 complaints tested, the program evaluator and supervisor did not document that the investigation was initiated and closed within the required timeframes.
• Six complaints lacked documentation that the investigation began within 24 hours, even though there was a risk someone was operating illegally as a childcare provider.
• For 28 percent of the complaints tested, the program evaluator and supervisor did not obtain or maintain all documentation necessary to substantiate closing a complaint as required.
• For 8 percent of the complaints tested, Comptrollers said DHS staff did not maintain enough documentation to support their conclusions.
• For two of 40 complaints tested, the program evaluator and supervisor did not document a strategy for investigating the complaint.
Comptrollers said they investigated the time period between November 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.
DHS staff said in the audit that they concurred with the Comptrollers’ findings.
– – –