Agencies at Odds Over Release of Caseworker Policy

By October 9, 2019News

Two state agencies are at odds over whether investigations that find child and family services caseworkers failed to follow policies and procedures should be made public.

By Associated Press, Wire Service Content Oct. 9, 2019, at 12:14 p.m.

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Two state agencies are at odds over whether investigations that find Division of Child and Family Services caseworkers failed to follow policies and procedures should be made public.

If the Child and Family Services Ombudsman’s office investigates a complaint and determines caseworkers didn’t follow policy, a “findings report” is sent to the director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The ombudsman’s office, which is part of the Department of Justice, argues the reports should be made public after all identifying information is removed. The health department argues Child and Family Services case records are confidential.

The agencies plan to ask a judge for a decision on the matter, the Missoulian reports.
DOJ spokesman John Barnes said the agency could file its petition as soon as this week.

“We will give the court a sampling of the reports for review and make our case why they are public,” Barnes said.
Jon Ebelt, spokesman for the health department, said the ombudsman’s office is also subject to confidentiality laws and disclosure restrictions.

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