UPDATE TO SPECIAL REPORT: Child Welfare, a broken system
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 10:16 PM CST | Updated: Feb 26, 2015 12:43 AM CST
At that time, the Bureau reported a backlog of about 2,800 cases and hired consultants to bring that number down. As of February 2015, CBS 58 has learned the backlog is down to 653 cases.
State Representative LaTonya Johnson sits on the Partnership Council that holds the Bureau accountable. For the second time in 8 months, she's requesting an audit of the Bureau.
\"There's no way that we can hold the bureau accountable if we don't get an official audit and know what the issues are,\" said Rep. Johnson, who has concerns about how the cases were being closed since July 2014 to catch up.
\"Some of these cases are being closed with administrative closures, meaning these cases aren't being investigated they're not being sent out to check on these families,\" added Rep. Johnson.
Some of the cases in the backlog were on hold for 90 days or more and listed as egregious incidents, meaning the children could be at a higher risk.
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, which oversees the Bureau, says \"While it is always the goal to complete all assessments within the 60 day time frame, there are some cases that might go beyond 60 days in order to ensure the most thorough investigation has been conducted. This is not unique to Milwaukee, as all of the larger counties in Wisconsin have some cases that are considered overdue.\"
Rep. Johnson would still like something to be done so the backlog never happens again.
\"Had we intervened, had we done something to remove those children from that situation, when we got that first initial report, then the child's life would be just different,\" Johnson said.
The Bureau also reports it's making progress with employee retention rates. They've added 11 new positions and are at \"some of the highest staffing levels for initial assessment in over a decade,\" according to Joe Scialfa, Communications Director at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.
Rep. Johnson isn't satisfied with the progress and still feels the audit is necessary to get the Bureau back on track.
\"The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare is the only chance these kids will get to get help,\" Johnson concluded.