Two officials from the state's child welfare agency have been placed on paid administrative leave. They include head of the Rhode Island Training School and the associate director of financial management for DCYF.
According to Executive Office of Health and Human Services spokesman Mike Raia:
"Earlier today, Joe Cardin, superintendent of the Rhode Island Training School, was placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation. Additionally, Brian Peterson (associate director, financial management, DCYF) was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this week pending investigation. In consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, DCYF has named Richard Meunier, Deputy Warden at the Intake Service Center, as interim superintendent of the Training School. Meunier, a U.S. Navy Veteran, has 30 years of experience in the justice system."
Raia said the agency could not comment any further on "personnel matters or ongoing investigations."
That's a reference to an ongoing investigation by state police into DCYF's finances. State police Col. Stephen O'Donnell has also declined to comment on the investigations.
An audit earlier this summer uncovered a wide range of financial problems at DCYF, including a lack of financial controls on contracts and little evidence that state purchasing regulations have been followed. For instance, several contracts were awarded without opening the bidding process, as state regulations require for purchases above a certain amount.
Problems have plagued the child welfare agency for years. Gov. Gina Raimondo has called for a complete overhaul of the agency, appointing a team of turnaround experts and calling in consultants from Harvard University. A Rhode Island Senate task force continues its oversight of the agency, meeting quarterly for updates.
More than 2500 children are currently in the state's care. EOHHS spokesman Mike Raia says the agency's top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of those children.