In the most disgusting way:
“Los Angeles County’s child welfare workers spent thousands of dollars in gift cards and entertainment tickets earmarked for foster children to buy themselves meals and attend musical events, according to an audit released Tuesday.
“Among the most serious problems cited by auditors, county workers bought 160 tickets in July to see the hit musical ‘Wicked.’ County officials said the purchase was part of a gala event for foster children and their mentors, yet only 53 children and roughly the same number of mentors were given tickets.
“The remaining seats went to employees of the Department of Children and Family Services and their relatives and guests, along with unidentified potential mentors and a number of not-for-profit organization employees, auditors wrote. The event cost $14,000.
“The audit of the department also faulted employees for using gift cards — bought with county money to supply food and clothing to foster children — to pay for staff luncheons.
“‘It is appalling that children who have nothing are having even this very limited amount stolen from them,’ said Carole Shauffer, executive director of the Youth Law Center in San Francisco. ‘This is a stunning lack of accountability.’
“Auditors said one worker attempted to hide extra gift cards the department received by asking the business that supplied the cards for false invoices. Another told auditors he or she no longer had any gift cards but actually had $23,000 worth of gift cards or certificates, the audit said.”
L.A. workers use gift cards meant for foster children. Audit shows that child welfare employees spent thousands on meals and tickets to musical events, by Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, November 7, 2007
Hope you’re proud of yourselves, LA County workers. You suck.
And Supervisor Gloria Molina wants your heads on sticks, too. From the link:
“Molina blamed a long-standing culture in the department that she said bred a sense of entitlement among a small but influential number of employees.
“‘I think there’s many a social worker there who have probably been there far too long, who don’t understand their own personal mission and responsibility’ and they “should be moving on to other roles and responsibilities,’ she said.”
“Meanwhile, county Auditor-Controller J. Tyler McCauley said his office would discuss the results of the audit with the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution.
“The audit, which focused on employees in a mentoring program for foster children, is the latest black eye for the county’s child welfare agency.
“While successfully reducing the number of children in foster care, the department has been beset in recent months by a series of management problems.
“Earlier this year, county auditors faulted the department for failing to adequately keep track of its supply purchases, concluding that procurement workers had wasted more than $1 million on unnecessary or overpriced equipment.
“In June, the agency reported that financial miscalculations and other problems had helped create an $8-million hole in its budget last year and forecast it needed to plug an additional $32-million hole during this fiscal year. The announcement drew criticism from supervisors, who said the department had expanded too quickly without watching the bottom line.”
Gah! Doesn’t the County continuously audit the hell out of these agencies? Maybe they should.