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California Did Not Always Ensure That Allegations and Referrals of Abuse and Neglect of Children Eligible for Title IV E Foster Care Payments Were Properly Recorded, Investigated, and Resolved

The California Department of Social Services (Social Services), Community Care Licensing Division (licensing division), did not (1) accurately record or investigate one complaint, (2) complete investigations in a timely manner, (3) refer priority I and II complaints (the most serious) to the Investigations Branch, (4) adequately cross-report complaints to the Children and Family Services Division and to law enforcement, (5) conduct onsite inspections within 10 days, (6) associate an employee of a community care facility with the facility, and (7) adequately clear plan-of-correction deficiencies.

The licensing division (1) lacked policies and procedures or did not follow existing policies and procedures and (2) did not require its analysts and supervisors to take periodic mandatory complaint investigation training. As a result, licensed facilities may be out of compliance with licensing laws or regulations, and children's health and safety may continue to be placed at risk.

We recommended that the licensing division (1) develop an action plan to ensure that complaint investigations are completed in a timely manner; (2) develop additional policies and procedures as necessary and follow existing policies and procedures; (3) ensure that the new complaint system currently under development includes certain functionality; and (4) provide analysts and their supervisors periodic mandatory complaint investigation training to reinforce their knowledge of the laws, regulations, policies and procedures, and best practices related to complaint investigations.

Social Services agreed with all of our recommendations and provided information on actions that it had taken or planned to take to address our recommendations.

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