Riverside County will expand its audit of a group the county paid to provide services for at-risk youths, after an initial review showed the group could not adequately document it had provided all the services for which it had billed.
The county audited billings for November and December from The DuBois Institute of Riverside, which provides services in Riverside, Jurupa Valley and Moreno Valley. The review raised sufficient concerns that, in letter dated March 20, the Riverside County Mental Health Department terminated its contract with group effective March 31.
Advocates for The DuBois Institute said Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting that the county should consider reinstating the group through June, when its contract with the county was scheduled to end. The Board should understand the needs of young people helped by the program and reinstate the contract, they said.
Supervisor John J. Benoit noted Tuesday that the county provides similar services countywide and said he appreciates the heartwarming stories about how the group’s work effects children. But the initial audit uncovered “some serious, serious problems,” he said.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of it … but it is not right to just leave the impression that we just don’t care,” he said. “We care a lot about all of the issues you talked about. We also care about making sure that the taxpayers’ dollars are spent appropriately.”
In a letter to The DuBois Institute on March 20, the county said that despite the contract’s record-keeping requirements, deficiencies in the November/December audit showed:
* Bills were submitted for some programs without auditable documentation that services had been provided.
* There was inadequate documentation about recurring charges for food and mileage, which were excessive and outside program requirements.
* Payments to staff were not substantiated by certified time sheets, nor approved by a supervisor.
*There was minimal documentation about staff hours or pay rates, and the number of hours seemed excessive for the services provided.
* There was no documentation that the state Department of Justice and FBI background checks mandated for those who worked with children had been completed for any staff members.
Riverside County officials intend to expand the audit over a significant portion of the five years the group contracted with the county.