Report 2016-126 Recommendation 22 Responses

Report 2016-126: California Department of Social Services: Its Caregiver Background Check Bureau Lacks Criminal History Information It Needs to Protect Vulnerable Populations in Licensed Care Facilities (Release Date: March 2017)

Recommendation #22 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that Social Services processes legal actions as quickly as possible so that delays do not impede individuals whose presence in a licensed facility would pose no risk, by July 2017 the department should establish formal time frames and monitor the stages of the legal process. At a minimum, Social Services should establish time frames for assigning cases to attorneys. Further, it should regularly monitor itself against the 120-day time frame for serving an accusation after the Legal Division receives a case.

1-Year Agency Response

CDSS has established time frames and monitoring actions that have resulted in substantial implementation of the recommended corrective action plan.

The Department continues monitoring the 120-day timeline by regularly holding Open Case Status conferences with its attorneys and analysts. Over the past year, CDSS has seen a marked reduction in the number of cases filed beyond the 120-day timeline. In January 2017, the Open Case Status report identified 246 cases filed past the 120-day timeline. A year later, the number of cases filed past the 120-day timeline has been reduced to just 28 cases. This improvement occurred at the same time that the Department realized a 55% increase in case referrals from the Community Care Licensing Division and Caregiver Background Check Bureau, and a 45% increase in cases proceeding to hearing.

In addition to holding Open Case Status conferences, Legal management regularly takes other actions that include holding regular meetings to review policies and procedures, maintaining assignment tracking logs, CBCB tracking logs and case assignment and closure spot check logs. (See Attachments 7 through 13.)

  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2019
  • Response Date: March 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented

Although Social Services initially indicated that this recommendation was not fully implemented, through follow-up discussion and review of documentation of its monitoring efforts, we determined that Social Services has fully addressed our recommendation. Specifically, it has established formal time frames for processing cases through the stages of the legal process and has established and is using monitoring tools to track its performance against these time frames.

6-Month Agency Response

Legal Management continues monitoring the 120-day timeline by regularly holding Open Case Status Conferences. As of April 2017, the Legal Division has reduced the number of late filing by more than half. In addition, the Department has developed policies and procedures to implement and monitor the 120-day timeline. The polices can be grouped into three phases: case intake and assignment, review and evidence collection, case development and drafting and approval and service of pleading. Cases are assigned to attorneys within 15 business days of receipt in Legal. Each phase has been assigned its own timeline so that the department can better monitor and isolate any inefficiencies. Management regularly monitors process including regular meetings with individuals to review work progress, use of assignment tracking logs and random spot checks.

The Department originally anticipated eliminating the backlog no later than November 2017. However, there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases being referred to the Legal Division for administrative action due to the implementation of new programs. It is expected that this will impact the 120-day timeline for filing actions. (See Attachments U, V, W, X, Y, Z, AA and AB.)

  • Estimated Completion Date: January 1, 2019
  • Response Date: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Partially Implemented

As it describes, Social Services has established time frames within which key actions should occur in a case. We look forward to reviewing documentation that the department is performing the monitoring actions it describes as part of the department's one-year response.

60-Day Agency Response

As of March 1, 2017, Social Services has established formal timelines requiring legal actions to be served within 120 days from receipt of the case in the Legal Division. Legal management will regularly monitor the 120-day timeline. The developed procedures clearly set forth expectations and require that if the timeframe is exceeded, staff shall notify his or her supervisor. In addition, the reason for missing the timeline must be documented in the case file and Open Case Status report. This process also requires managers to meet and review staff caseload progress on a quarterly basis and prepare a report summary for review by the Senior Assistant Chief Counsel. If an attorney has an unserved case on the Open Case Status report that is older than 120-days, the attorney and manager will develop a drafting plan. The manager will schedule monthly follow-up meetings with the attorney to monitor the case progress.

Social Service anticipates eliminating its case backlog and being able to file cases within the 120-day timeline no later than November 2017.

  • Estimated Completion Date: November 2017
  • Response Date: May 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

Social Services indicates that it has implemented, as of March 2017, a 120-day time frame for serving legal actions from the time a case is received by the Legal Division. However, this time frame already existed at the time of our audit.

All Recommendations in 2016-126

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.