City Receives Second of Three Requested Reviews of Richmond DSS

Mayor says report is balanced and consistent in identifying problems

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today shared the results of a review his administration requested from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). The VDSS review is one of three reviews the Jones Administration requested of the Richmond Department of Social Services (RDSS) following a number of allegations the City received about Child Protective Services (CPS) policies, procedures and management failures.

“The State, through the requested Quality Management Review, has provided us with a balanced review that further underscores the concerns that we have been responding to,” said Mayor Jones. “While the interim leadership we have put in place has already begun taking steps to address many concerns, a complete corrective action plan needs to be in place by July 31, 2013.”

The VDSS review, which looked at CPS, Foster Care and Adoptions and Resource Family Services, offered 25 findings and recommendations, including: 
  • create and implement a comprehensive records management system,
  • re-assess policy for determining the needs to file Emergency Removal Orders and Preliminary Protective Orders to adequately provide for the safety of children,
  • re-evaluate internal policies and follow the Structured Decision-making and CPS policy guidelines for ongoing CPS services for “high risk” or “very high risk” cases,
  • do a better job in making complete, comprehensive assessments to identify risk for children,
  • develop a plan to reduce the high number of overdue CPS referrals,
  • provide necessary training for CPS workers,
  • ensure that supervisors are consistent in implementing agency goals, practices and policies. 

In May of this year, following a requested City Inspector General report of CPS, Mayor Jones announced the retirement of the Director of RDSS and the resignation of the RDSS Deputy Director, citing very serious concerns raised in the report and several failures in the agency. 

“The VDSS report is consistent with other findings underscoring the needs for RDSS to do a better job with protecting the safety of our children,” continued Mayor Jones. “I am thankful to VDSS for the tremendous commitment of resources they have provided to assist us to this point,” Mayor Jones continued. “I will accept nothing less than the RDSS being a high performing agency, performing all duties according to all applicable standards and ensuring the utmost in child safety practices.”

The City has also engaged the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) to examine the agency’s overall practices. The VDSS report focused on compliance with state policies, while the CWLA report will focus on national best practices. The CWLA report is expected to be received by the end of July and the three reviews together are anticipated to help guide the City in its efforts to revamp the RDSS operation and strengthen its child welfare system.

Steve Harms, interim deputy chief administrative officer for Human Services, is overseeing the reviews for the Jones Administration.

 “This report presents many helpful recommendations and also cites strengths within RDSS,” said Steve Harms. “We will build upon those strengths and correct the deficiencies.”