- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Officials with the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency say they do not house foster children overnight in the troubled agency’s Southeast office building, despite a line item in the proposed budget that aims to end the practice.

“It doesn’t happen, it didn’t happen,” said Janet Maher, CFSA chief of staff. “It’s incorrect. It shouldn’t be in the budget.”

Last year, CFSA officials fired social worker Shirley Tabb after she provided WUSA-TV (Channel 9) with photographs and a videotape showing foster children spending the night in the office building. Officials later acknowledged that some children had spent the night in the office last spring.

“We had a placement crisis last spring and in the early summer, and in a few incidents children did stay the night,” Miss Maher said. “That has not happened since that time.”

Listed among CFSA’s goals in the fiscal 2007 budget is the item “eliminating overnight stays for children at the on-site Intake Processing Center” in the Southeast office.

“I have no idea why that is in there,” Miss Maher said, “and I don’t, frankly, even know who prepares [the budget].”

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which handles budget matters for the District, said only city agencies create their goal lists.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ office released the 2007 budget last month.

CFSA officials said no children have spent the night in the office building recently. When police or other authorities drop off children after hours, emergency foster parents take them home, officials said.

Knowledgeable sources in CFSA, however, say the agency cannot expect foster parents to be available at all times and must have a hospitality center in the office with beds for children.

Bert Molina, deputy chief financial officer for the District, said he does not think children spend the night in CFSA’s office building. He said the goal will be deleted before the budget is sent to Congress for approval in early June.

The budget item was not mentioned at the CFSA budget hearing Monday.

Among other CFSA goals is an item for developing agreements that would allow the agency to place D.C. children in foster homes in Maryland and Virginia.

CFSA’s proposed fiscal 2007 budget is $250.9 million, a 5.2 percent increase from its 2006 budget. The increase includes $3.7 million in employee salary and benefit raises.

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