Audit shows state employees stole from foster kids - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Audit shows state employees stole from foster kids

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) - State employees allegedly stole from foster children's savings accounts, according to an audit released earlier this week.

The audit of the State Department of Children's Services shows how much the agency has improved in the past several years.  But, state auditors noted violations that included money missing from the savings accounts of foster children.

The audit notes that between 2006 and 2008, Tennessee DCS employees were stealing money from interest earning accounts belonging to adult foster children with jobs. 

Linda O'Neal, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, called the accusations unfortunate.

"I think its always unfortunate when young people are disappointed by those who are supposed to serve and protect them.  But its pretty clear from the audit that this was not a widespread problem/"

DCS officials say they actually provided the information to comptrollers, and the problems had already been identified and addressed. 

"The are very isolated cases, and in a few cases, we actually worked with local prosecutors to make sure these people were punished for doing so," DCS spokesperson Rob Johnson said. "But its just a handful of cases over two years statewide."
 
The audit also found that social workers assigned to older children transitioning from state custody to adulthood weren't visiting them as often as department rules require.  A survey of 25 cases showed 20 children had not received the required bi-monthly visits or monthly phone calls or emails. 

Child advocacy officials say the audit report points out how important it to provide the same kind of support for foster children as we would our own children.

DCS officials say they have been cooperating with the comptrollers office and welcome the audits that help them make improvements within their agency.

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