Democrat governor Gina Raimondo and her administration continue to face criticism, even from members of her own party, for disastrous management of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, & Families (DCYF). For months, the DCYF has been plagued by reports of mismanagement and worse, with the Providence Journal first revealing that actions by some of the DCYF’s workers “left young people in their care hospitalized, endangered or exploited” following Raimondo’s appointment of unqualified administrators to oversee the department.
At a hearing last week, Rhode Island House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairwoman Patricia Serpa, a Democrat who has been a vocal critic of Raimondo for the “leadership vacuum” her administration has left with regards to the DCYF’s problems, again took aim at the Democratic administration, claiming that “there are no excuses for those administrators who earn six figures to have been so inattentive that all hell broke loose.”
With Raimondo still dragging her feet over fixing the DCYF, appearing more concerned with her image ahead of a tough 2018 re-election fight than helping Rhode Island’s at-risk youths, even those in her own party are saying enough is enough.
The Warwick Post reports:
“Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, said she is ‘concerned and troubled’ by serious incidents involving the health and safety of youth residents and staff of the Rhode Island Training School, and that the committee will revisit the issue to give the Department of Children, Youth and Families the opportunity to put their solutions into practice….
‘Of all the agencies we’ve been overseeing with these meetings, DCYF is perhaps of the greatest concern,’ said Representative Serpa. ‘They are burdened with a tremendous responsibility: protecting the children of this state. And it’s troubling to think that children are at serious risk due to the inadequacies of a state agency. We will stay on top of the situation at DCYF until we are satisfied that people who have important, responsible jobs DO those jobs. There are no excuses for those administrators who earn six figures to have been so inattentive that all hell broke loose.’…
According to the report, there were several security system and equipment failures at the training school, protocols and procedures need to be added and improved, communications systems need to be improved, and behavioral incidents require more systematic assessments.
The report also stated that there is inconsistent administrative oversight between facilities and the multiple units of the training school, deficits in staffing created unsafe conditions, an inadequate curriculum for the training academy for new staffers, and insufficient data collection and reporting regarding effectiveness of operations.
Lastly, the report states there is a need to improve the array of programming to meet the needs of the entire population, additional services are required relating to gang intervention, family transition and outside placements, and options for job training are limited….
The report by the Child Fatality Review Panel examined the cases of six young children who suffered neglect or abuse from adults in the past year. Four of the children are dead. They ranged in age from 2 to 18 months.
Since becoming chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee in May 2016, Representative Serpa has continuously investigated several prominent failures within multiple state agencies. She has led the charge for answers on topics of public importance such as the UHIP fiasco, the deaths and near-deaths of several children under DCYF’s care, the severe tax refund delays last year, and publicly calling for the Attorney General to release all documents related to 38 Studios.”