Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today after receiving the Child Welfare League’s report on the Child Welfare Division of the City’s Department of Social Services, which the City had requested:
“Earlier this year, I ordered the Department of Social Services to address each of the concerns raised in earlier reviews of the agency. This latest report acknowledges that we are dealing forthrightly with these problems and are taking corrective actions to fix them. Make no mistake: While we have a lot of work ahead, children’s safety will not be compromised. We are investing the resources needed to turn this agency around. Like every parent, I strongly believe this is the right thing to do.
“The report notes that the hearts of city child welfare workers are in the right place, and they are working hard to do the right thing, despite the serious problems that have come to light. Their jobs are important and tough, and I know that they are working hard to protect vulnerable children in Richmond. I am personally grateful for their commitment and for the leadership of Interim Deputy CAO Stephen Harms and Tonya Vincent, Interim Director of the Department of Social Services.”
Over the past eight months, the City has focused on gaining an in-depth understanding of the operations of the Department of Social Services Child Welfare Division to ensure the safety of the children it serves. The City has requested and received reviews by the City Auditor, the Commonwealth and the Child Welfare League of America.
The Mayor emphasized that the City has taken immediate and corrective actions in staffing, restructuring Child Protective Services and other units to better respond to high caseloads. Investigation and documentation protocols are now more prescriptive and staff members are undergoing additional training. These and other corrective measures to reduce caseloads are expected to improve response times and investigations.