Audit says DCFS is not documenting those who receive its services

Audit says DCFS is not documenting those who receive its services

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For a third year in a row, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor said it has found the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is falling behind.

A new audit finds the DCFS did not have all required documentation for clients receiving federal benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

"When we pulled a sample of transactions we found, I think it was 24 percent of the work verification files did not have documentation that someone actually worked to receive those benefits," said Bradley Cryer with the Legislative Auditor.

A possible loss of at least $1.1 million is at stake for the DCFS if the federal government gets involved. Washington did not take action the past two years, but if federal officials decide to this time around, it could mean less money for clients. One of those who could be affected is Cinthya Hernandez, a mother of six.

"My husband doesn't make too much money," Hernandez said. "And, I'm not working because I can't pay for child care and for food, rent, bills, all that."

DCFS declined the invitation for an interview Monday, but in a response to the auditor, the department said it will continue to look for errors through its electronic filing system. Officials said this is the third straight year DCFS gave that response.

"What we've recommended is that the department go through each one of their files and look to make sure the documentation that's supposed to be there is actually there in those files. It's a very large case load. You're talking about thousands of cases, but there's no way to fix the problem until you've actually done that," Cryer replied when asked if the auditor's office would make suggestions to DCFS in order to fix the problem.

Cryer said no criminal activity occurred, but officials intend to make the Legislative Audit Committee aware of the findings. The committee will meet next month, which is when it will get its first look at the audit.

From there, the committee could take direct action against the DCFS.

As for federal officials, they'll learn of the audit in March when the state sends them a comprehensive report of the audit and all of its other reports.

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