Audit: Tennessee agency losing money, plans to expand

Audit: Tennessee agency losing money, plans to expand

The taxpayer-funded Tennessee Community Services Agency, which serves the state’s 95 counties, is bleeding money because of administrative costs, an audit report says.

The agency provides for a variety of social programs, including health councils, inmate care and adult drug courts, among numerous other things, according to its website.

Despite the losses, TNCSA officials want to press on.

The agency’s fund balance declined from nearly $2 million in fiscal 2013 to nearly $1.2 million in fiscal 2016, the report says.

TNCSA Executive Director Tom McWherter told auditors money coming to the agency has, for the past three years, failed to cover administrative costs.

The agency’s home support services, for instance, lost an unspecified amount of money because of what the audit calls “fewer clients and a lower reimbursement rate.”

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Tom McWherter

The audit blames the loss of contracts with the state’s Department of Children’s Services and TennCare, among other entities.

TNCSA staff slashed administrative and program salaries by 10 percent in 2010 to reduce costs but last year returned those salaries to their prior levels, saying in the audit “the reductions were not fair.”

Nonetheless, McWherter told Tennessee Watchdog the agency should continue to exist.

“We fill gaps in services for the most part, and that primarily is the reason that we need to be around,” McWherter said.

“We receive no direct appropriation from the state. All of the money we use and earn we get through contracts or receive from service revenue.”

The agency does, however, sign contracts with local governments, as well as nonprofits.

McWherter told auditors the agency has “a three-year plan for structured growth.” He told Tennessee Watchdog the agency would rebrand itself, though he didn’t provide details.

The TNCSA, he said, recently signed a new contract with the Shelby County Department of Health to work with traumatic brain injury patients. The agency also plans to add five new positions in its Jackson office.

The audit also calls out the agency for failing to perform background checks on its employees, as state law requires. The audit says TNCSA officials too often failed to use Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry on employees who have direct contact with elderly clients. The agency, meanwhile, hired two employees without doing a TBI background check, the audit says.

The Tennessee General Assembly created the agency in 1989, according its website. For nearly 20 years TNCSA was divvied up into 12 agencies, with just as many executive directors. In 2008, those agencies merged into one, and one executive director took charge.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org 

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  • Lee

    I am a Grandmother desparate to help changes be made to protects and ensure our children have the option to hear and learn family history from their Grandparents. We offer Love, Stability, Knowledge and Assistance.

    I am requesting you read the information below about the current Title IV e funding Reform Act under the Social Security Act.

    There are currently 8,500,000 Grandparents raising their Grandchildren across the United States, that we know of. There are other Grandparents who are not accounted for.

    The Constitutional rights to protect and keep our families together are at a high risk status due to the Department of Children Services discretionary choice and biased opionion.

    We are hoping to create mechanisms for the flow of support and money to ensure familial connection not to eliminate the bonds within the families of United States of America.

    You have a voice we do not, please help.

    Foster Care Reform = Title IV-e Distribution Reform

    Social Security Act – Title IV, sec. b & e

    Currently, Title IV-e funding is distributed to states, on a per head in care basis, for the purpose of reimbursing costs associated with kids in state care (custody), and as adoption incentive to move kids out of care quickly to non-family caregivers .

    Currently, Title IV-e funding is triggered by a child coming into state care (legal custody). When kids remain in the care or custody of parents/ family, federal money is not triggered. Therefore any funding allocated to a child/family by a CPS agency is non-reimbursable State spending.

    Currently, under current Title IV-e law and guidelines, there is no dollar value for states to preserve families of engage in family preservation models of engagement.

    The Family First Act of 2016 aims to reform Title IV-e funding to invest in funding family preservation and family services to help keep children safe and supported at home with their families, and for other purposes.

    Welcome to our Foster Care Finance Reform Advocacy planning meeting

    We are part of a group of parents, grandparents, attorneys and professional stakeholders, from all across the United States, compelled to preserving families through reform to federal funding programs that encourage alternative objectives.
    Thank you taking the first step to making your voice heard.

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