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Audit suggests improvements for Nassau County’s Social Services Department

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011)

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County’s Social Services Department failed to make required visits to foster children that could have helped determine how the children were faring, according to County Comptroller George Maragos.

In an audit released earlier this week that praised the county’s foster program for doing a “commendable job” overall, Maragos also said Nassau lost nearly $24,000 in foster care reimbursements because it did not follow federal and state guidelines.

“New York State law requires caseworkers to have at least one contact, face to face, with the foster child on a monthly basis in order to ensure the child’s safety and well-being,” said Maragos.

He said a sampling of 24 cases for the period Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011, required 242 child contacts, but found 45 instances “where caseworkers did not make the required contact visits.” Of the 45 instances of missed contacts, 25 were because the children were absent from the home or institution without permission.

Nassau pays the cost of the foster care program and receives most of the money back in reimbursements from the federal or state governments.

Maragos cited two instances in which the county was not reimbursed. One involved a service provider that lacked the proper state code, resulting in a non-reimbursable expense of at least $21,314. DSS also used a foster boarding home that missed its annual recertification, resulting in a loss in federal reimbursement of at least $2,266, Maragos said.

DSS Commissioner John Imhof said he appreciates Maragos’ acknowledgment of his agency’s good work, “and the suggested improvements have been addressed to ensure the ongoing well-being of these children.

“While DSS has an obligation to make certain that the County does not lose any state or Federal reimbursement, the best interests of the children always remain paramount.”

DSS provides foster care services to children who are abused, neglected, and need a safe place to live.

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