Richmond DSS bungles payments for adopted children with special needs

Posted at 12:08 AM, Aug 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-08 00:08:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmond's Department of Social Services is taking full responsibility after CBS 6 learned that families were late receiving money they depend on for their adopted children with special needs.

Families who have adopted children with complex needs such as behavioral issues or down syndrome can qualify for adoption assistance payments each month to help care for the child.

According to several families, these checks typically come at the first of the month but there was a delay this month.

"It's not fair at all," said one mother who does not want her identity revealed. "You're trying to take care of a child's needs and make sure they're good, you get a little frustrated in the process."

This mother said she typically gets her checks on the first of the month but did not receive it until Wednesday, August 7.

David Hicks, Director of Social Services issued a statement after CBS 6 inquired about the delay. He said they apologize to the Richmond families and accepted full responsibility for the delayed payments.

"A three percent increase in the state’s maintenance rates for foster care and adoption assistance cases went into effect July 1, 2014 which was based on inflation costs for raising a child, coinciding with the beginning of the fiscal year," said Hicks. "While the checks reflecting the increase were originally processed on schedule, some errors were detected which required a need to ensure the accuracy of the payments."

"If there was an increase, they were very aware of that before the checks were printed, so that shouldn't have been a reason for it to be delayed," said one mother.

Hicks also said the delay in process checks is the result of several systemic and structural problems and he was recently made aware of. He said he has asked for a full audit by the City Auditor's Office.