DCYF | New Hampshire Public Radio

DCYF

Courtesy of Demetrios Tsaros

New Hampshire schools are trying to keep track of kids learning remotely. And if students are chronically absent, the school has a few options: Call the parents. Send a school employee to knock on their door.

Or, call the state’s Child Protection Services.

That option is becoming more popular as the pandemic drags on.

ACLU, Disability Rights Center Sue State Over Treatment Of Foster Care Youth

Jan 6, 2021

The New Hampshire Disability Rights Center is suing the state of New Hampshire in federal court over its treatment of foster youth with mental health impairments, alleging that the state is over-institutionalizing them and putting them at “severe risk of dangerous and tragic outcomes.”

NHPR file photo

We review two major reports focusing on child protective services in New Hampshire. In its annual report, the Office of the Child Advocate, formed in 2018 to help reform the Division for Children, Youth and Families, notes some gradual improvements, including a shift “from the appearance of a punitive to a family supportive agency.” Still, according to OCA Director Moira O'Neill,  the state has been too slow to adopt a community-based system of care for children that can help prevent problems from worsening.

DCYF recently released its second annual Data Book, citing some areas of improvement, including fewer caseloads per child-protective services worker, decreasing from an average of 45 to 16 cases.  That's still not where it should be, however, says Joseph E. Ribsam, Jr., DCYF director. The recommended goal is 12 cases per worker. But Ribsam says the agency has made good progress on a major issue raised by the OCA – training a broad array of people, from caseworkers to judges, on recognizing and dealing with psychological maltreatment of children.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

If you have concerns about the welfare of a child, call the abuse and neglect hotline at  800-894-5533 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).  

If you have a concern or complaint about a state service for children, call the Office of the Child Advocate: 603-271-7773.


 

Airdate: Dec. 8, 2020.

CDC.gov

This post was updated with new information on Nov. 2.

A youth residential facility in Plymouth is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, the state's coronavirus data dashboard repoted 19 active cases. A spokesman for the state health department says the latest number reflects ten cases among academy staff and nine cases among youth.

A national non-profit says legal representation for young people in New Hampshire is “gravely undervalued,” leading to inadequate access to attorneys and unnecessary rates of probation and court involvement.

NHPR File Photo

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has reached a $120,000 settlement with a former employee over allegations she was retaliated against for publicly criticizing the state's child protective services.

Courtesy of Facebook/Nashua Children's Home

The state’s residential facilities and detention center for youth are modifying operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but some advocates say change isn’t coming fast enough.

As of April 1, about 350 young people were in residential facilities operated by 13 different providers across the state. About half of the youth are involved in the juvenile justice system; the rest were placed by child protective services.

For children experiencing abuse or neglect, schools and support services are essential. With schools closed and stay-at-home orders in place until at least the beginning of May, we talk with those working with vulnerable children about how they're adapting to these challenges, and what we all can do to keep kids safe. 

If you suspect a child is experiencing abuse or neglect, please call 800-894-5533 or 603-271-6562.

Air date: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 9-10 a.m.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An employee of the state Department of Health and Human Services, Anna Carrigan, has filed a lawsuit alleging the state is failing its legal responsibilities to protect children from abuse and neglect in New Hampshire. The lawsuit also alleges Carrigan was retaliated against by supervisors at DHHS for speaking publicly on the issue.

NHPR File Photo

State employees who investigate allegations of child abuse could have access to confidential peer support groups if a new bill passes the state legislature.

Supporters of the measure say case workers with the Division for Children, Youth and Families experience secondary traumas on a regular basis and a need a protected setting to debrief.

 

The state is seeking feedback from parents and community partners on its tentative plan to open a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) for youth in a recently closed wing of the Sununu Youth Services Center. 

Children were restrained or secluded more than 20,000 times in residential youth behavioral health facilities in New Hampshire over a five year period from 2014 to 2018. That’s the finding of a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate, an independent watchdog agency that oversees the state’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families.

Department of Human Health and Services

A new report by the Office of the Child Advocate says the state agency tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse is hampered by poor communication, chronic understaffing, and an outdated, inefficient records keeping system.

The report, which examines systemic factors affecting child safety in New Hampshire, focuses on the deaths of five children and one parent whose families had contact with the Division for Children, Youth and Families since February 2018.

Department of Human Health and Services

Reports of child abuse and neglect reached a record high in New Hampshire during the last fiscal year.

That's according to data released last week by the Division for Children, Youth and Families, the state's child welfare system.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with the DCYF director Joe Ribsam about what this data mean for measuring the agency's progress and how DCYF plans to do better.

(Editor's note: below is a partial transcript from the NHPR interview that's been lightly edited for clarity.)

DCYF

Reports of child abuse and neglect reached a record high in New Hampshire during the last fiscal year.

Last fiscal year, the Division for Children, Youth and Families received more than 30,000 calls reporting child abuse or neglect. Of those, more than 12,000 were investigated by child welfare workers.

The new data released by the state Friday highlights the increasing demands on the agency tasked with protecting the welfare of children.

The report also shows the average caseload for DCYF workers, about 45, remains well above the nationally recommend level of 12.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

The state agency tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse is issuing a sweeping request for public input on how it could better do its job.

The Division for Children, Youth, and Families has struggled for years through funding cuts, growing number of calls, and lawsuits that allege the agency failed to act to protect children.

Child Welfare Advocates March For Reforms At N.H. DCYF

Jul 28, 2019
Sara Ernst / NHPR

Child welfare advocates marched in front of the State House on Saturday to point out what they called flaws in New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families. The event was hosted by New Road Project, a non-profit aiming to reform the state’s child protection system. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

The Office of the Child Advocate says New Hampshire is making progress in reforming the foster and juvenile justice systems, but some say the state isn't moving fast enough.

At a juvenile justice forum on Friday at the statehouse, advocates touted a group of child welfare bills signed this month by Governor Sununu.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Gov. Chris Sununu says he'll sign two bills aimed at helping New Hampshire children, putting aside his initial concerns about one of them.

Lawmakers recently passed a bill to add 77 caseworkers to the Division of Children, Youth and Families, which has faced increased scrutiny after several child deaths and struggled with high turnover and heavy workloads. Sununu's proposed budget funded only a fraction of that number, because he worried the state wouldn't be able to fill them quickly and money would lay dormant.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A bill to add dozens of new state employees at the agency tasked with investigating child abuse has now passed both chambers of the legislature.

Multiple outside reviews of the Division of Children, Youth and Families have identified a shortage of caseworkers as a problem. DCYF employees currently juggle a caseload that is nearly four times the nationally recommended average.

Department of Human Health and Services

The state Division of Children, Youth and Families, New Hampshire's child welfare system, has been a major focus for lawmakers during this legislative session.

But some reform advocates say new legislation is not enough to address DCYF's ongoing issues.

Anna Carrigan is the co-founder of The New Road Project, a recently launched nonprofit that aims to help families that are struggling under the current system.

Carrigan has a master’s in social work, and actually works for the state agency that oversees DCYF – though in another division. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley sat down with her to chat about her advocacy work.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

  

A bill to add 77 new positions at the Department for Children, Youth and Families received unanimous approval from a committee of House lawmakers Tuesday.

 

The vote comes a day after a legislative Advisory Board for DCYF put its support behind the bill.

 

Department of Human Health and Services

The New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families advisory board is putting its weight behind a proposal to add dozens of new positions at the agency.

High caseloads have long plagued the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. Right now the average caseworker at DCYF is juggling 45 cases at once, while the nationally recommended average is 12.

As state lawmakers and the governor debate the state budget, a handful of proposals have been put forward to address the staffing shortage.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Case workers from the New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families went before lawmakers Tuesday to ask for additional staff to keep up with a growing number of child abuse reports.

 

Caseworkers at DCYF, the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse, currently juggle an average of around 45 cases each. The nationally recommended level is 12 cases.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The state Office of Child Advocate has announced it is currently reviewing how the Department for Children Youth and Families handles cases of infants born exposed to drugs.

The Office of the Child Advocate says it opened the review in December of last year after it received concerns about how DCYF was handling the cases. In two cases in 2018 infants, died after DCYF closed assessments for neglect as unfounded.

Statewide, the state Child Advocate says there were 466 children involved in DCYF cases where there were indications that the child was born exposed to drugs.

Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers On Top D.H.H.S. Issues

Mar 26, 2019
Dan Tuohy for NHPR

We sit down with Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers. The Department of Health and Human Services is the largest state agency and accounts for approximately forty percent of the state budget. We discuss the state's ten-year mental health plan, as well as recent challenges to medicaid work requirements.  And we get an update on the state's hub and spoke system for addiction treatment, and concerns about the Division of Children, Youth and Families. 

GUEST:

Jeffrey Meyers - Appointed in 2016, Meyers is Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. 

NHPR Staff

The state senate yesterday unanimously passed two bills aimed at boosting mental health services and protecting vulnerable children.

The votes came on the same day Governor Chris Sununu was outlining his budget which looks to tackle some of the same issues.

One bill, passed Thursday, would add 77 positions to the Department for Children, Youth, and Families over the next two years. That's 15 more positions than Sununu called for in his speech.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

When Gov. Chris Sununu outlined his budget proposal to lawmakers at the State House on Thursday, much of the speech centered on health care, including some proposed fixes to issues that have simmered for years.

Courtesy

New Hampshire’s Office of Child Advocate is endorsing a bill to create 77 positions to better protect children.

Moira O’Neill says 57 of those positions are for child protective service workers. The rest are for supervisors.

The Senate Finance Committee has a hearing on the legislation Tuesday. It would cost about $8.5 million over two years, with $2.5 million coming from federal funds.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: January 18, 2019

Jan 17, 2019

The State's Office of the Child Advocate releases its first annual report on the state of DCYF. Director Moira O'Neill says lots more needs to be done to keep kids safe. Julian Castro comes to New Hampshire in his bid to win over Democrats in the 2020 presidential primary. And democrats have made legal marijuana a part of its platform, so why do some leading democrats seem reluctant to back legalization bills? 

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