State to audit foster agencies

The Associated Press
Friday July 27, 2001

LOS ANGELES — Prompted by problems in the foster care system, the state controller announced Thursday that programs in Los Angeles and Sacramento counties will be audited. 

The audits will track local, state and federal funding to determine whether the money is reaching the children it is intended to benefit. 

“Our concern is that the dollars are being effectively utilized, that they aren’t being misspent or being unnecessarily utilized for bureaucratic expenditures,” Controller Kathleen Connell said. 

Connell said that she hopes the audit will strengthen the programs, which both recently received “very negative grand jury reports about the quality of foster care.” 

“There is concern whether the agencies are effective in providing the quality of services needed to these families,” she said. 

Los Angeles County officials said they will cooperate fully with the audit. 

“We see this as an opportunity to improve our services for children, which is always the department’s priority,” said Anita Bock, director of the Department of Children and Family Services. “I think audits are a good way to see if the taxpayers money is being wisely spent.” 

In Sacramento County, the audit will begin with the Department of Human Assistance, which handles the foster care payment system, and may then move into the Department of Health and Human Services, which supervises child protective services. DHHS director Jim Hunt said he was concerned about the audit’s impact. 

“This is going to hurt our foster care recruitment because foster families are being subjected to this type of scrutiny for being a service to our society,” he said. 

Hunt said a foster parent of an infant gets $405 a month and “to question how that money is spent is inappropriate.” 

For the 1999-2000 fiscal year, the Los Angeles County department received $446 million and Sacramento received $93 million. 

The controller’s office, which has authority to audit any agency receiving state funding, has requested access to the agencies’ records. The audits will be conducted simultaneously beginning next week.