Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo continues to remain silent amid growing criticism for her lack of leadership in addressing the child welfare scandal in Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF). Raimondo remains missing in action in dealing with the agency’s failures in the week since the Providence Journal’s bombshell report on actions by DCYF workers that “left young people in their care hospitalized, endangered or exploited.” But with news this week of unresolved shortfalls in Rhode Island’s new budget, Raimondo’s lack of leadership may end up costing Rhode Island youths even more, with one budget official claiming it is “’doubtful’ that the Department of Children, Youth and Families can save $4 million through additional Medicaid claims” as had been expected.
“On the spending side, Womer said the General Assembly’s budget ordered “several reductions that will be either nearly impossible or legally impermissible for agencies to achieve,” citing cost shifts proposed in four departments that provide social services.
Specifically, Womer said it was ‘not possible’ for the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Development Disabilities and Hospitals to make up $3.2 million in funding cuts by sending more bills to third parties; ‘doubtful’ that the Department of Children, Youth and Families can save $4 million through additional Medicaid claims; ‘not sustainable’ for the Department of Health to collect $500,000 more from the federal government for indirect costs; and not possible to cover more child care costs through the federal welfare block grant.”
Throughout Rhode Island’s nearly month-long budget stalemate, Raimondo abdicated any leadership role, remaining on the sidelines while the state’s Speaker of the House and Senate President had multiple meetings, as Raimondo claimed it was “up to them to work out” the budget’s issues. Now with the chances of saving $4 million for the DCYF looking “doubtful” under the new budget as the agency has been rocked by disturbing reports of child abuse, Raimondo’s lack of attention to the state’s budgetary woes is proving costly to Rhode Island youths. Her shameful lack of leadership has allowed systemic issues with the DCYF to worsen and even with growing criticism from her own party leaders, Raimondo continues to do nothing.