Suggested Reforms

Posted: June 01, 2007

To fix the systemic problems, the panel recommended a series of reforms, ranging from a rethinking of its core mission to the development of a new DHS document. Among other steps, it said the agency must:

Visit all children under 5 within two hours of getting a warning that they might be abused or neglected. Currently, the agency takes up to five days to conduct many such visits.

Require social workers to use a common set of guidelines to evaluate whether children are in danger. Currently, DHS has no such common standard, leading it to rend important decisions about families randomly and capriciously.

Monitor more closely the outside contractors who handle most of the face-to-face contacts with children, parents and guardians. The agency should issue public report cards grading their performance, the panel said.

To make sure it all happens, the panel said, the mayor must appoint a permanent oversight commission to keep watch on DHS and make sure it does a better job.

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