The commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families has addressed the fact that nearly $200,000 was sent to foster families by mistake.
After repeatedly declining interviews, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters finally caught up with DCF Commissioner Joette Katz Tuesday at a news conference.
"Two hundred thousand dollars, or close there to, was inappropriately sent to families over a period of time," Katz said.
Nine foster families who had been placed in subsidized guardianships got the mistaken payments. In one case, they went on for six years, with the family being overpaid more than $57,000.
"This was an oversight, this was misstep," Katz said.
For some, DCF hadn’t noticed the foster children were well over the maximum age of 21 years old and were too old for the families to receive payments. In other cases, the children were living back with their birth parents as the checks still rolled into to their foster homes.
"Most of the families who received those checks inappropriately are working with us to refund those dollars," Katz said.
Katz emphasizes her agency oversees 9,000 children on a tightened budget.
"Quite frankly, I am running a department now with $100 million dollars less than when I came in," Katz said.
Another reason for the oversight: with guardianship subsidies, foster children aren’t assigned case workers because they are often with family members.
"We have automated systems now, almost ticker systems, so that there is a closer watch on that," Katz said.
Katz assures this won’t happen again going forward. However, DCF said there is still a possibility they will discover more of the overpayments as they review cases.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was present at the news conference that was held to discuss recent DCF successes, stepped up to address whether or not DCF had spent any more money by mistake.
"You can’t know what you don't know," Malloy said. "If the documents exist, we take action. If we find a case, we seek reimbursement."
We also asked DCF officials if any other money was mistakenly paid out by the agency for any reason and they have yet to answer that question.