A spokesman for Rhode Island's Dept. of Children, Youth, and Families confirms an investigation is underway, but officials remain mum on the reasons why state police are looking into the child welfare agency's finances.
A recent audit of DCYF found the agency failed to follow basic accounting practices. Chief strategy officer and de facto DCYF head Jamia McDonald said auditors found a near complete lack of financial controls. Government purchasing regulations were not always followed. Contracts with service providers were signed without the required competitive bidding process or purchase orders. McDonald said invoices from service providers were rarely verified before or after payment to ensure services were provided as agreed.
Speaking to reporters earlier this summer, McDonald said the purpose of the audit was not to uncover financial wrongdoing, but to pave the way for a more solid financial footing for the agency. DCYF has been in the red for several years, including a $16 million dollar deficit during the last fiscal year. McDonald said officials have been able to correct that deficit without requesting additional funds from the General Assembly.
The agency is in the midst of a complete overhaul, at the behest of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who said DCYF has been mismanaged for years.