The Department of Social and Health Services has created 30- and 60-day action plans for the Colville DSHS office, after dozens of complaints alleged illegal and shoddy activity there. DSHS says their operation engendered an “environment of mistrust” that affected how the office operated in the community.
“We are taking action immediately to improve the practice of the Colville office and reaching out to community partners to better serve the children and families in the area, ”said interim Assistant Secretary Randy Hart.
The “roadmap” is below.
Within 30 days:
1. Review the internal Children’s Administration internal report and the Office of Family and Children’s Ombudsman report and issue a detailed response by June 15, 2009.
2. Re-establish the Child Welfare Overview Committee meetings and meet on a quarterly basis with judges, Court Appointed Special Advocates, public defenders, and Kids First director, and social workers for education, with the purpose of collaboration, communication, information sharing and cross training.
3. Continue to participate in the Table of 10 meetings that include CASA, Stevens County public defender, Kids First director, assistant attorney general and court administrator. Improve child welfare services within the community by focusing on cross training and collaboration with community partners.
4. Area administrator will engage a member of the Colville medical community regarding participation as the facilitator of the north county Child Protection Team.
5. Consult with the University of Washington School of Law’s Court Improvement Training Academy on developing an agenda for a “town hall” meeting to give an overview of child welfare system to foster community meetings with stakeholders focusing on improving community relationships.
6. Area administrator to continue to meet with Stevens County CASA supervisor on a weekly basis to improve overall communication.
7. Hire an additional Social Worker III to reduce social worker caseload in Stevens County.
8. Collaborate with juvenile court personnel to define and outline the process for family reconciliation services, child in need of services, at-risk youth and providing packets to the court clerk and juvenile personnel defining this process.
And within 60 days:
1. Area administrator assigned to the Colville office on a full-time basis.
2. Conduct team building meetings for the staff in the Colville and Republic offices to improve overall staff relationships and morale.
3. Request a mediator to work with the Court Appointed Special Advocate and Division of Children and Family personnel to improve the overall working relationship.
4. Follow-up with Ombudsman Meinig to get additional input and suggestions for consultation.
5. Develop a Community Advisory Board as outlined by the Family to Family Program.
6. Recruit local providers for client services including medical, mental health, parent-child development, visitation, transportation for visitation and services.
7. Provide community partners and Children’s Administration staff with “lessons learned” training from previous fatality and critical incidents.
8. Area administrator to schedule individual meetings with other relevant community partners to solicit feedback, build relationships, develop effective communication strategies and procedures to address concerns.