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Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Audit: DHS Skipping Criminal Background Checks on Foster Parents
By Hawaii State Auditor @ 12:59 AM :: 1245 Views :: Ethics, Family, Law Enforcement

Financial and Compliance Audit of the Department of Human Services

from Hawaii State Auditor, April 11, 2022  (excerpt pgs 92-96, relevant sections highlighted in yellow below)

Department of Human Services State of Hawaii

Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs for the year ended June 30, 2021

Section III – Federal Award Findings and Questioned Costs

Finding No.: 2021-011 Maintaining Proper Case Documentation to Support Eligibility Determinations

Federal Agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Assistance Listing No.: 93.659

Program: Adoption Assistance

Requirement: Eligibility

Type of Finding: Non-Compliance and Material Weakness

Federal award no. and year:  2001HIADPT 2020,  2101HIADPT 2021

Criteria: Pursuant to 42 USC 673(a)(3), the amount of the adoption assistance payments to be made shall be determined through agreement between the adoptive parents and the State or local agency administering the program, which shall take into consideration the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted, and may be readjusted periodically, with the concurrence of the adopting parents (which may be specified in the adoption assistance agreement), depending upon changes in such circumstances.

Pursuant to 42 USC 671(a)(20)(A), the State must have procedures for criminal records checks, including a fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases (as defined in 28 USC 534(f)(3)(A)), for any prospective adoptive parent before the adoptive parent may be finally approved for placement of a child.

Pursuant to 42 USC 671(a)(20)(B), the State shall check any child abuse and neglect registry maintained by the State for information on any prospective foster or adoptive parent and on any other adult living in the home of such prospective parent.

Pursuant to 42 USC 673(a)(2)(A), the State must determine the child to have special needs in order to be eligible for adoption assistance payments.

Condition: Eligibility determinations for 20 participants were missing supporting documentation required by the State Plan, which encompasses the regulations above.

Context: We selected a non-statistical sample of 60 case files which approximated $30,000 in monthly payments, out of a population of approximately 2,600 case files which approximated $15.3 million in total annual benefit payments, for testing and noted exceptions in 20 case files as follows:

  16 case files where the initial or modified adoption agreement was missing and therefore did not have any support for the amount of the monthly assistance paid.

  1 case file where the “difficulty of care” determination was missing and therefore did not support the assistance amount paid.

  1 case file where documentation of the child’s special needs was missing.

  12 case files where the state, FBI, and/or child abuse and neglect clearances were missing in the case files.

Cause: Although the Department has established policies and procedures in place over the application process and documentation requirements to support the determination of assistance amounts, there was a lack of diligence in complying with the policies and procedures.

Effect: Failure to follow the established policies and procedures limits the Department’s ability to demonstrate compliance with the requirements and resulted in questioned costs.

Questioned Costs: $11,600

Identification of a repeat finding: N/A

Recommendations: We recommend that the Department diligently comply with its policies and procedures. Views of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Action: See Part VI Corrective Action Plan.  (pg 127-128)

  *   *   *   *   *

Finding No.: 2021-012 Maintaining Proper Case Documentation to Support Eligibility Determinations

Federal Agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Assistance Listing No.: 93.090

Program: Guardianship Assistance

Requirement: Eligibility, Activities Allowed or Unallowed, Allowable Cost

Type of Finding: Non-Compliance and Material Weakness

Federal award no. and year:  2001HIGARD 2020,  2101HIGARD 2021

Criteria: Pursuant to 42 USC 673(d)(1), an executed kinship guardianship assistance agreement with the prospective relative guardian must include the amount of and any adjustments based on the needs of the child. The "Guardianship/Permanency Assistance Agreement” (Agreement) is the agreement executed with the relative guardian. The Agreement outlines the terms and conditions for the participants and the Department, and includes the total amount of assistance payments. The Agreement may be further supplemented due to difficulties in caring for a child as determined by a caseworker on an as needed basis and documented on the “Difficulty of Care” (DOC) worksheet. In the event of an increase or decrease to the amount of the assistance payments, the caseworkers are required to execute a revised Agreement.

Pursuant to 42 USC 673(d)(3)(A), a child is eligible when the state agency determines the following:

a) With respect to a child who has attained 14 years of age, the child has been consulted regarding the kinship guardianship arrangement.

b) Eligible for foster care maintenance payments under 42 USC 672 while residing for at least six consecutive months in the home of the prospective relative guardian.

c) Removed from his or her home pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement or as a result of a judicial determination to the effect that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

Pursuant to 42 USC 673(a)(4)(A), assistance payments must stop for a child who has attained 18 years of age or greater or 21 years of age if the State determines that the child has a mental or physical handicap.

Pursuant to 42 USC 671(a)(20)(c), any relative guardian must satisfactorily have met a criminal records check, including a fingerprint-based check of national crime information databases (as defined in 28 USC 534(e)(3)(A)), and for checks described in 42 USC 671(a)(20)(B) on any relative guardian and any other adult living in the home of any relative guardian, before the relative guardian may receive kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of the child.

Condition: Eligibility determinations for 30 participants were missing supporting documentation required by the regulations above.

Context: We selected a non-statistical sample of 60 case files which approximated $25,000 in monthly benefit payments, out of a population of approximately 600 case files which approximated $3.6 million in total annual benefit payments, for testing and noted exceptions in 30 case files as follows:

  19 case files where the initial or modified guardianship agreements was missing and therefor did not support the monthly assistance paid.

  5 case files where the DOC was missing or did not support the amount paid.

 7 case files where the eligibility supporting documents such as birth certificate, court order, consent form and 6 months of foster care eligibility were missing in the case files.

  6 case files where the state, FBI, and/or child abuse and neglect clearances were missing in the case files.

  1 case file where a participant was receiving foster care and guardianship assistance payments in the same months.

Cause: Although the Department has established policies and procedures in place over the application process and determination of assistance amount, there was a lack of diligence in complying with the policies and procedures.

Effect: Failure to follow the established policies and procedures limits the Department’s ability to demonstrate compliance with the requirements and resulted in questioned costs.

Questioned Costs: $9,170

Identification of a repeat finding: This is a repeat finding from the immediate previous audit 2020-010.

Recommendations: We recommend that the Department diligently comply with its policies and procedures.

Views of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Action: See Part VI Correction Action Plan.  (pg 129-130)

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