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Texas Did Not Always Ensure That Allegations and Referrals of Abuse and Neglect of Children Eligible for Title IV-E Foster Care Payments Were Recorded and Investigated in Accordance With Federal and State Requirements

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (State agency) did not always ensure that allegations and referrals of abuse and neglect for children in foster care covered by Title IV-E of the Act were recorded and investigated in accordance with Federal and State requirements. Of the 100 reported cases of abuse and neglect that we reviewed, 54 were investigated in accordance with Federal and State requirements. Of the remaining 46 cases (12 cases had more than 1 issue), we found that the State did not (1) submit 17 investigation reports for supervisory approval within 30 days as required or (2) ensure, in 41 cases, that investigators and their supervisors conducted and documented interim meetings within 20 days as required.

The State agency completed all investigations and assigned a disposition that resolved each of the 100 sample cases reviewed.

We recommended that the State agency (1) revise its policy of requiring a 30-day timeframe for submitting an investigation report to a period that ensures both quality and timeliness in completing the investigation and (2) ensure that interim meetings between investigators and supervisors are held and documented within the required timeframes.

In written comments on our draft report, the State agency agreed that our findings accurately reflect the conditions that were found; however, the State agency disagreed that the paperwork issues suggest "some type of infirmity in the quality of the investigations ." The State agency also disagreed with the title, tone, and overall conclusion of the report. Regarding the title and tone, the State agency said that it "sensationalizes the underlying findings and misleads readers regarding the true content of the report." As for the conclusion, the State agency disagreed that foster children could have been placed at risk. Additionally, the State agency acknowledged our concerns with the State requirements but did not agree that Federal requirements were not met.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families