The Times West Virginian

November 23, 2013

Audit: Reporting requirements for Youth Services Program are not met

By Brock Vergakis
Associated Press

CHARLESTON — A legislative audit says the Bureau for Children and Families has failed to meet statutorily required reporting requirements for its Youth Services Program.

The program is intended to help children with a variety of issues, such as homelessness, drug abuse and legal issues. The audit was provided to state lawmakers during their interim session this week.

The audit says the bureau doesn’t have data to determine the effectiveness of interventions for more than 80 percent of youth services cases. The audit says the data for the other 20 percent of is not specific to the Youth Service Program and includes children in ongoing Child Protective Services cases.

An agency official who was not identified in the report told auditors there’s a lack of data because the bureau only tracks data for Youth Services cases in which the children are in foster care.

Without the proper data, the audit says the bureau can’t determine the effectiveness of the program. In the 2012 fiscal year, the bureau had more than 6,100 children enrolled in youth services. More than 1,000 of those cases came from courts ordering a child to receive youth services.

“The BCF is unable to determine which rehabilitative facilities and programs have been successful in curbing undesirable behavior, if interventions have prevented future court involvement, and the total costs of the Youth Services Program,” the audit says.

The bureau agreed with each of the audit’s findings and said in a written response that it is working to implement the recommendations with the help of a new task team. The bureau said it will update the Legislature on its progress complying with the law in six months.

The recommendations include tracking responses to rehabilitative treatment programs on a case-by-case basis and establishing performance goals specific to the Youth Services Program.