North Dakota State Auditor’s office says their audit found ND DOH not following procedure on children in extreme abuse situations

North Dakota Capitol
North Dakota Capitol(kfyr)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The North Dakota State Auditor’s office says they found that for the sixth straight year the Department of Human Services is not adhering to their own policy of checking on children from reported abusive situations in the allowed timeframes. In extreme abusive situations such as sexual abuse and risk of death, DHS policy mandates a response time of 24 hours. The Auditor’s office found they’re averaging 13 days.

This was one of four areas identified in the last audit of DHS that they say have not been addressed and the newest audit identified eight total areas of concern, including:

  • Failure to Timely Contact Suspected Victims of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Childcare Providers Operating Without Implementing Corrective Orders
  • Not Verifying Income for applicants of the Substance Use Disorder Voucher Program
  • Substance Use Disorder Vouchers Incorrectly Paid
  • Employees Underpaid by $132,000
  • Bonuses Paid to Ineligible Employees
  • $629 Million in Financial Statement Errors
  • Unsupported Controls Over Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, Likely Error Rate of $6,297,706

State Auditor Joshua Gallion stated, “This is the third consecutive audit that our team has identified that children are in extreme abusive situations for longer than they should be. I urge DHS to work with the legislative assembly to gain resources to be responsive and better staffed so these unacceptable conditions improve for the most vulnerable voices.”

The DHS Executive Director Chris Jones says the department agrees with many of the findings and that in most cases, solutions were already implemented to address them. He also pointed out that the investigation looked at performance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as it covered the period from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021.

Jones added that the department looks forward to working with the Governor’s office and the legislature to strengthen North Dakota’s capacity to ensure that children and families thrive.

The complete audit report can be found here.

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