Whistleblower claims problems within Grand Forks Child Protective Services are hurting kids
An anonymous whistleblower tipped off the Valley News Lives investigators to a mass exodus on the second floor of the Grand Forks County office building. In the Child Protective Services Department there have been a lot of turnover.
We asked Scot Hoeper, the director of the Grand Forks County Social Services, if he thinks the CPS department is functioning as it should.
He said he believes it is.
The CPS department in Grand Forks is made up of seven people. Eight if you include the supervisor Tamara Boling. Since May 2016, 11 people have either quit altogether or switched departments.
If that seems like a lot, it's because it is. Compare that to Cass County, a much bigger department made up 21 people. In the same time there only 4 people have left their CPS department.
After the CPS department initially refused to give up public information, follow-up requests lead us to their internal emails and meeting notes.
The correspondents and riddled with problems in the department. They depict a stressful environment with much of the blame directed to their supervisor, Boling.
One of the emails is quoted saying, "Why is it always put back on us when Tamara is the real problem? Why do we get penalized because we bring our concerns forward."
Another one reads, "Why don't we get an apology from Tamara for treating us like crap over the past year."
And, "Some people are just not meant to be supervisors."
Another email read, "How many more people need to leave before some one gets the point."
How does all this affect child abuse victims in the county?
The most egregious claim against the CPS supervisor, Boling, is asking people to shred 960 reports. 960 reports are the document that is often filled out by law enforcement detailing the nature and extent of child abuse. If the 960 gets lost, or destroyed, nobody will follow up on the abused child.
"Has Tamara Boling or anybody else in CPS destroyed 960 reports?" Valley News Live asked Hoeper. Hoeper said he was aware of a shredding 960 incident and interviewed all the people involved and found no evidence that a report had been destroyed.
Our anonymous whistleblower said she was personally directed by her supervisor, Boling, to shred a 960 report. She didn't. But, she questions, is this the first time a 960 has been mishandled?
Other emails reveal more problems with how 960 reports are handled. One email details how a 960 was sent to Tamara, but didn't get to the social worker to be processed.
Some cases of child abuse are so serious someone from CPS is supposed to make contact with the victim within 24 hours. Cases this serious are called Category A cases. One email details how a category A 960 was in Tamara's mail box but didn't get to the social worker who was supposed to follow up with the victim until 39 hours later.
Hoeper says the CPS department is functioning well and they are trying to improve the workplace environment.
The major question left to be answered is are kids falling through the cracks in Grand Forks county without anybody knowing? Our anonymous whistleblower thinks they are absolutely are. However, employees working here today say it's not even a possibility.
Valley News Live requested an interview with the supervisor Tamara Boling, but we directed only to the director Hoeper. Hoeper answers to the County Commissioners, your elected officials in Grand Forks County.
Our whistleblower tells us she actually wrote a letter voicing her concerns to the County Commissioners, but she never got a response.
We asked the State's Attorney in Grand Forks if it is illegal to destroy 960 reports. He didn't know and hasn't got back to us on if there could be any legal repercussions.