ND Auditor's Office: Department of Human Services is failing to meet own standards in responding to child abuse cases

Courtesy: ND Office of the State Auditor
Courtesy: ND Office of the State Auditor

(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota's Office of the Auditor spoke to The Flag's What's on Your Mind Program about the state's Department of Human Service's response times to child abuse incidents. 

North Dakota State Auditor Josh Gallion outlined the results of a report, which showed the state's Department of Human Services "is not adhering to their own policy" regarding checking in on reports of children being in potentially abusive situations. 

"Polices in DHS require responses to reported child abuse within 24 hours, "said Gallion, "As we evaluated our sample size, we take a small sample of the total cases and we evaluated those, The average response time in that sample size was 13 days. That is very concerning."

Gallion emphasizes what the number of abuse cases across the state is especially concerning. He says the level of cases reported has "skyrocketed", saying the number of Response Time A cases jumped from around 150 in 2020 to around 350 in 2021. The "Response Time A" group includes children who are in situations which have a "substantial risk of death", are in a sexually abusive situation where the alleged perpetrator has access to the victim, malnutrition, and other serious scenarios.

The report says this is the third audit which found the response time issues. 

The Department of Human Services says a large reason why there is large delays in face-to-face contact with potentially abused children is due to "extreme staff turnover", and are assigning priority to cases "in order of severity." The DHS is seeking additional full time employees, and is planning to ask for more funding during the next Legislative Session to lessen work loads. 

Original Air Date: 
Monday, August 22, 2022