Governor’s DHR Task Force to examine agency for efficiency

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Representative Mac McCutcheon is the chair of the new Alabama Department of Human Resources Task Force. He says it has an important job.

"It will be an advisory group to support DHR and we will be looking at different county DHR agencies to see how they're functioning, and to see if there's ideas that we can give them so that they can become more efficient," he said.

He says there's a need for that, especially when you look at the heavy case load for case workers.

"You're dealing with the future of these children," he said. "Sometimes these case workers have such a tremendous load. They need to utilize all the resources they have available."

He says this task force should help them recognize their resources, or even find ways for them to be used more effectively.

Chris Newlin is also on the task force. He's the Executive Director of the National Children's Advocacy Center, and says the DHR is very important to what they do.

"The NCAC was built on the whole concept of a multidisciplinary response to child abuse," he said, "and the DHR is a key member of that response."

He's hoping the task force's findings can help them better protect the children of Alabama, and is happy to be a part of it.

"[Those children] are often voiceless and unfortunately for some of them, hopeless," he explained. "They deserve to have someone who speaks on their behalf."

Newlin adds, what DHR workers do is hard and often uncomfortable.

"They're responding to trauma on a daily basis," he said.

But McCutcheon explains, all parties involved just want the best services possible for those who need to use them. He just doesn't want to see bureaucracy get in the way of that mission.

"We just want to make sure DHR does not just become a state bureaucracy, but it keeps its focus on the people that they serve," he said.

The full list of task force members includes:

  • Mac McCutcheon, State Representative, Task Force chair
  • Chris England, State Representative
  • Lyn Head, District Attorney
  • Nancy Buckner, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Greg Reed, State Senator
  • Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Adrienne LaBudde, Attorney
  • Paul Vincent, Expert, Child Welfare Practice
  • Martha Hooper, Foster Parent Advocate, Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association
  • Additional appointments as the Governor deems necessary.

Their list of tasks, according to the executive order that created the task force, is as follows:

  1. Methods to strengthen the quality and consistency of screening of reports of child abuse.
  2. Family assessments stemming from and adequacy of resources to respond to child abuse reports.
  3. Training of child welfare workers including supervisors.
  4. Early intervention and prevention services for children and families at risk of abuse.
  5. Transparency of the child protection system.
  6. Review of the child protection system focusing on whether the intervention provided is making a difference in the lives of children.
  7. Review of foster care services as an integral part of the child protection system.
  8. Methods to increase the utilization of local resources

The Task Force has to report its findings to the Governor by January 15, 2016.

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