Richmond DSS bungles payments for adopted children with special needs

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmond's Department of Social Services is taking full responsibility after CBS 6 learned that families were late receiving money they depend on for their adopted children with special needs.

Families who have adopted children with complex needs such as behavioral issues or down syndrome can qualify for adoption assistance payments each month to help care for the child.

According to several families, these checks typically come at the first of the month but there was a delay this month.

"It's not fair at all," said one mother who does not want her identity revealed. "You're trying to take care of a child's needs and make sure they're good, you get a little frustrated in the process."

This mother said she typically gets her checks on the first of the month but did not receive it until Wednesday, August 7.

David Hicks, Director of Social Services issued a statement after CBS 6 inquired about the delay. He said they apologize to the Richmond families and accepted full responsibility for the delayed payments.

"A three percent increase in the state’s maintenance rates for foster care and adoption assistance cases went into effect July 1, 2014 which was based on inflation costs for raising a child, coinciding with the beginning of the fiscal year," said Hicks. "While the checks reflecting the increase were originally processed on schedule, some errors were detected which required a need to ensure the accuracy of the payments."

"If there was an increase, they were very aware of that before the checks were printed, so that shouldn't have been a reason for it to be delayed," said one mother.

Hicks also said the delay in process checks is the result of several systemic and structural problems and he was recently made aware of. He said he has asked for a full audit by the City Auditor's Office.


  • Paula

    Really. Seven days late. What with some of these people? NOT all but I wonder if the child the most important or the check that they are getting? They can’t use the excuse that it is for medcine because the children have medicaid.

    • Dustin Cavanaugh

      Special needs children generally need more than just medicine if they even need medicine at all. You just want to stir the pot. The fact is these people are adopting children with special needs and giving them a home outside of the horrible places the state will put you. You wanting to turn this around on them with no evidence and with no reasonable basis for doing so shows me the type of person you are.

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        “Was you a special needs child?” Were you a special needs child? I don’t have to have special needs to be familiar with special needs children. I know many special needs children need a laptop so they can write, many need special learning tools to help aide in their ability to learn. Many need more than just medicine. How many insurances do you know that pay for laptops to children who have illnesses making them incapable of writing? How many insurances do you know that pay for learning tools that special needs children need to help them learn?

  • manalishi

    Considering Richmond’s long term hiring practices, it’s hard to expect anything more than complete dysfunction.

  • Cate

    In response to the previous viewer. The majority of families have no problem with the wait. However, some families have large sibling groups they have adopted, other families have children for whom Medicaid was not available and they are covering medical and other therapeutic supports for the children. Not all adopted children get Medicaid and families by state law also don’t get child care coverage unless it is an adaptive child care center. Just wanted you to know…most were fine with the delay. As I said in my interview, families are not going to let children go without, but they are concerned that the Department correct any errors in their system.

  • Y

    DSS has been ridden by scandals, dysfunction, and failures since 09. That coincides with the with a new Mayor and
    CAO; directly responsible for the day-to-day Municipal Operations of all City agencies and departments; just according
    to their website. Odd they are never held responsible.

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