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Virginia families 'nervous' about personal information after technical glitch

Technical glitch leaves Virginia families without funding: 'I'm kind of nervous'
Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 17:53:26-04

AFTER GLITCH, Virginia families left wondering where their personal information is: — RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services said it's investigating after technical issues halted applications for a program that provides financial help to families with developmentally disabled loved ones.

Several people reached out to CBS 6 and said they had submitted applications, but when they received confirmation emails and double-checked the information they found the application and personal information of other people.

"I'm kind of nervous because I don't know where information is," Cassandra Petrosky, the mother of 12-year-old twin boys on the autism spectrum, said.

For Petrosky, what happened on Thursday morning left her wanting answers

"I want to know where my kids' information is. I want to know why this happened," Petrosky said.

The Mechanicsville mother was applying for a state program that helps families like hers financially. Money from the program allows her to afford to put her two sons in a special dance class.

"I can't pay for out of pocket because I'm income-based," Petrosky said.

The portal to submit opened on Thursday at 10 a.m. Petrosky said she was done within two minutes but when she checked the confirmation email, the information was for a family in Northern Virginia.

"My kids' applications are missing. So, our data is now in cyberspace somewhere and someone else's portal that people could have seen our last four digits of our social security numbers, my email, our address, a lot of personal information is now in someone else's hands."

Petrosky was not alone in her concerns.

"I'm a little nervous. I'm sure everyone's nervous who this has happened to?" Matilde Houck, the mother of a 17-year-old with autism, said. "I got someone else's name. And a link to their application was there. I clicked on it just to see if it was my information and it wasn't. It was someone else's information."

A spokesperson for DBHDS told CBS 6 they "were alarmed and disappointed to learn about the IFSP portal issue on Thursday."

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the state agency said the portal was open for six minutes before they realized there were problems and shut things down.

They added an investigation into the cause and extent of the issue was being conducted along with the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and anyone impacted would be contacted.

"This incident appears to be similar to an incident that occurred in 2019," DBHDS spokesperson Lauren Cunningham told CBS 6.

"DBHDS’ internal team and VITA have been working to simulate and solve the issue since then. Extensive review and testing took place over 17 months prior to this program being put back into service. The program was functioning properly and it was believed the portal was clear to operate as scheduled."

The spokesperson says they had done extensive work and testing on the portal for the past 17 months and believed it was ready to go.

The families CBS 6 spoke with, expressed frustration at the apparent repeat.

"I'm a little surprised that they used the same system. Again, I would have thought that, you know, after what happened in 2019, that they would have resorted to using a new system instead of trying to tweak the old one. So I was I was pretty shocked at that happened again yesterday," said Houck.

Petrosky said that she's just praying it's fixed as soon.

"Because we are in limbo now yet again. And it sucks," Petrosky said.

DBHDS said it fully recognizes "IFSP is a valuable program for many Virginians" and will "continue to work diligently towards a secure solution for this important program."

They said any families or individuals that were impacted can send any questions or concerns to IFSPSupport@dbhds.virginia.gov.