DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose just announced that four more DHS workers will leave the department due to their involvement in the case of Danieal Kelly, a 14-year-old girl who starved to death in 2006 despite DHS oversight.
Two DHS employees were charged criminally in the case, along with Kelly's parents, family friends and workers from an agency that did contract work for DHS. Those two workers were fired over the summer.
But another seven DHS workers were named the Grand Jury investigation. In August, two were briefly suspended without pay and one retired. And today Ambrose announced that two more will be fired and she has accepted a resignation from one, and retirement from another.
Here's the full release:
DHS COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCES STATUS OF SUSPENDED WORKERS
Philadelphia, October 10-- Today Department of Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose announced the status of the remaining four DHS workers suspended in response to the Grand Jury findings in relation to the 2006 death of Danieal Kelly. After a full review of recently completed investigations and reports by the Inspector General as well as the recommendations of a disciplinary panel, the Commissioner announced her intent to terminate the employment of two the employees and has accepted the retirement and resignation of the other two:
Shawn Davis, Social Work Supervisor, will be suspended for 30 days without pay with intent to dismiss.
Ingrid Hawk, Social Work Supervisor, will be suspended for 30 days without pay with intent to dismiss.
Martha Poller, Program Administrator, has retired.
Valerie Mond, Program Administrator, has resigned.
Given that their egregious disregard for their professional responsibilities played a role in Danieal’s death, the Commissioner decided to terminate Davis’ and Hawk’s employment as recommended by the Inspector General. An internal disciplinary panel had recommended suspending both workers for 30 days and demoting Hawk. The two dismissals will become effective upon the conclusion of the suspension period.
“After carefully considering all of the evidence presented in the case, I felt that the neglect of duty on the part of these workers was unconscionable. Had DHS policies and procedures been followed, we may have had a different result for Danieal Kelly.” Ambrose explained. “The Department of Human Services is responsible for protecting the city’s most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. It is a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
Today’s announcement resolves the status of the seven DHS workers who the Grand Jury found to have played a role in Danieal’s death but did not indict. Ambrose noted that the tragedy had led to major reforms within the Department and the entire child welfare system, to better ensure the safety of vulnerable children.
Among the reforms that the agency has accomplished:
The mission of the Department has been reformulated to establish child safety as its core function.
A new procedure has been put in place whereby a case worker must visit within two hours any child under five where there is a credible report of abuse or neglect.
The Commissioner’s Action Response Office was established to receive and track complaints.
A new evidence based safety assessment tool has been developed which provides a much more accurate and standardized system to assess a child’s safety.
The Commissioner also emphasized that the failures of the workers involved in this case are in no way representative of the vast majority of staff at DHS.
“I want to stress that while the neglect of the social workers involved in Danieal’s death was inexcusable, the overwhelming majority of DHS workers are not only competent and professional but passionate about their jobs and completely dedicated to ensuring the safety and well being of the children of our city.”