Thursday, May 9, 2013

City Responds to City Audit of Social Services Department

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today the retirement of the Director of the Richmond Department of Social Services (RDSS), and the resignation of the RDSS Deputy Director. This announcement follows the release of the first of three on-going reviews of RDSS. The City ‘s Office of the Inspector General reported the results of its investigation of RDSS’ Child Protective Services (CPS) during the City Council Audit Committee meeting at City Hall this afternoon.

“I’m grateful to the City Auditor for his review of the City’s Department of Social Services,” said Mayor Jones. “The report is difficult and painful to read. It highlights several failures in an agency charged with protecting our most vulnerable residents. When we initiated the reviews of the Department of Social Services, I said that we would take immediate corrective actions as we became aware of problems. I am taking those next steps today.”

Mayor Jones continued, “The findings in the Auditor’s report are very serious. The safety of our children should not, and will not, be compromised. I fully expect the Department of Social Services to address each and every concern raised by this audit report and the two reports to follow.”

The City anticipates the results of the other reviews to come in June, with the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) review early in the month and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) results later in the month. The VDSS report will focus on compliance with state policies, while the CWLA report will focus on national best practices. In combination, the three reviews will guide the City in its efforts of undertaking a comprehensive strengthening of its child welfare system.

In January 2013, Mayor Jones appointed Stephen Harms as the Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Human Services with the directive of investigating and correcting problems within RDSS. Upon beginning City service, Harms asked all three review teams to share major findings as the studies proceeded. As a result of this request, RDSS began taking immediate corrective actions in February 2013. As departmental case records were found to be missing or deficient, RDSS immediately began taking steps to compile, organize, confirm, and complete information. Consequently, investigation and documentation protocols are now more prescriptive, and RDSS has also begun providing additional training to staff.

Response times and thoroughness of investigations and assessments are expected to improve as staff, throughout the agency are redeployed to help with the heavy CPS caseloads. Since February, eleven staff personnel and two supervisors have been added for a total of 28 staff personnel and five supervisors dedicated to CPS.

Harms noted that, “Improvements have started, but the Department of Social Services has a long way to go. Department management must provide the necessary guidance and support to help workers excel in their efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. We need to restore confidence among all of our community partners in the capability of the department to be the vital hub of the City’s child welfare system. The assistance of the City Auditor, the Virginia Department of Social Services, and the Child Welfare League of America will be invaluable in our efforts to improve.”

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mayor’s Remarks of City Firefighters & Police Officers STEP Increases

The following are the prepared remarks for Mayor Dwight C. Jones as he outlined the STEP increases for FY2014 and FY2015 for all Richmond firefighters and police officers.

“Thank you all for joining us today as we announce and detail the STEP salary increases for our Richmond Fire Department and Richmond Police Department staff.

“Despite the need to close a $31 million budget gap, my administration has been committed to providing pay increases for all City employees for the third time in my term as Richmond's Mayor.  (Two raises and one bonus)

“I submitted a budget to the City of Richmond to Council that included a 2% increase for all City employees. I also proposed an amendment to that budget to provide an additional increase for sworn police and fire department employees in recognition of the fact that their step increases had been frozen for five years. But we also wanted to make this effort due to the day-to-day dangers of police and fire jobs, in protecting lives and property.

“All employees, including sworn members of the Police and Fire departments, who were employed as of October 1, 2012 will receive a 2% pay raise that will appear on their first full paycheck in October 2013.

“All Sworn Police Officers and Fire Fighters (approximately 1,100 employees) will receive a Step increase, 2% of which will be received on the first full paycheck in October 2013 and the balance of which will be received on the first full paycheck in January 2014.

“The increase in January will be an additional .5% for those police officers and fire fighters in Steps 1-11, 8% for those in Step 12; 9% for those in Step 13; and 10% for those in Step 14. The cost of the step increases for police officers and fire fighters, over and above the 2%, will be an additional $1.4 million in FY2014.

“After hearing City Council concerns and discussing directly with the Chiefs, we found a way to make this possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members of City Council for reviewing and approving this very important budget amendment, as they too recognize the importance of acknowledging the hard work and dedication of these very important city servants.”