Fairfax County's social services do not adequately keep track of abused and neglected children who are served by a variety of agencies and the courts and lack a standard for determining the success of various programs, a consultant has concluded.
A report prepared by Maximus Inc. and submitted to the county executive's office said that, overall, the county's human services programs are sound and the staffs superior and strongly committed.
But it noted deficiencies, particularly in the area of coordination between county agencies involved with child protective services and in information systems that should be used to monitor cases.
"The dearth of caseload tracking information, describing the numbers of clients receiving specified services resources during a given time period further handicaps the ability to identify systemwide staffing and service needs," the report stated.
It said that the court system, the Department of Social Services and the Community Services Board, which administers a wide range of mental health and substance abuse programs, do not use the same case numbers or other identifiers so they can share information on a common client.
"The department also lacks any tool for the measurement or monitoring of the 'success' of social services in meeting program goals upon termination or at fixed intervals after services are provided."
The consultants pointed to the same deficiency within the Community Services Board, saying it "has no policy governing child abuse and neglect, hence no special standard against which current performance may be assessed." The report recommended that the board adopt a policy statement defining the priority it would give child protective service, the criteria used to determine when a child is in need of services and time guidelines for responding to a referral.
The report proposed that the Department of Social Services be reorganized for better coordination and less competition for resources within the agency and that the county develop an automated case management tracking system, which it estimated would cost $675,000.
In fiscal 1986, the department received allegations of abuse involving 2,875 children, according to the report. Of these, the department said 22 percent were founded, 63 percent unfounded, 14 percent had reason to suspect but were unfounded, and 1 percent were pending.
The consultants also said the social services department should meet with the county attorney and the chief judge "to discuss the adequacy of legal representation." The report said the county attorney's office employes have "very limited time" to prepare for some 40 to 50 court appearances a month.
The report is dated May 1987, but the county executive's office refused to release it until this week. County officials could not be reached late yesterday for comment.