Audit Identifies Issues with How Nonprofit Serving Vulnerable Populations Resolves Complaints and Manages Finances of Individuals in its Care

In an audit released today, the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) found issues in how the Center for Human Development (CHD), a nonprofit that provides programs and services to vulnerable populations, resolves complaints for persons served by its group homes and programs and manages the finances of individuals in its care.

CHD has contracts with state agencies, which serve as CHD’s main source of funding, including the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to provide Adult Community Clinical Services Programs and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to provide adult long-term residential programs. These programs provide group homes and services to support individuals with mental illness or disabilities. The audit reviewed the period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020.

“Rules regarding protections for our most vulnerable populations were put in place for good reason, and it is essential that they be followed,” Bump said of the audit. “Our audit identified areas where the Center for Human Development must correct its course of action to comply with applicable regulations, and to ensure the safety and well-being of persons in its care.”

The audit found CHD and its subcontractor’s human rights committees (HRC) did not review all the complaints that were resolved in the audit period. This is required in order to ensure the rights of clients to appeal a complaint resolution was adequately protected in matters of alleged abuse, mistreatment, or neglect. Additionally, CHD did not always investigate and resolve DMH person-served complaints in a timely manner or meet with the complainant during an investigation.

During the audit period, some CHD employees were also HRC members, which poses a financial and administrative conflict of interest as the HRC is intended to be an independent body established to help providers support, promote, and protect the human and civil rights of the people served by CHD.

The audit also found instances in which CHD, while acting as an individual’s representative payee, did not properly administer the payments on behalf of DMH and DDS individuals in its care. This included instances where proper paperwork for purchases was not filed, authorization forms were not signed by the client, and mismatched records were found between payments made and payments authorized. These issues could increase the opportunity for mismanagement, unaccounted-for variances, losses or thefts of funds.

To address the issues identified, the audit recommends that CHD document and implement procedures to detail the process for monitoring and reviewing all complaints, establish written procedures that define HRC membership requirements, and implement monitoring controls over documentation and fund disbursement. Based on its response, CHD is taking steps to address these issues.

The Center for Human Development (CHD) is a private nonprofit corporation established January 5, 1972. CHD operates more than 80 programs and services across western Massachusetts and Connecticut. CHD offers programs including outpatient clinics, group homes for people with Down syndrome, foster care sites, and a large alternative high school. According to CHD’s independent audit report for the period ended June 30, 2019, CHD’s total operating revenue for fiscal year 2019 was $104,937,152, and its total operating expenses for that year were $100,653,323.

The full audit report is available here.

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About the Office of the State Auditor
The Office of the State Auditor conducts performance audits of state government programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency. The OSA has identified approximately $1.3 billion in unallowable, questionable, or potentially fraudulent spending and saving opportunities for the Commonwealth since 2011. Last year, auditees reported implementation of 92 percent of the OSA’s audit recommendations.

For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/auditor or follow Auditor Bump on Twitter @MassAuditor, on Facebook, or subscribe to the Auditor’s Report e-newsletter.

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