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DHS looks for new ways to find problem providers

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The Oregon Department of Human Services is looking for ways to use billing and invoice issues to identify potential problems at publicly funded service programs such as foster care programs.

The agency failed to take action in recent years against the Portland foster care program Give Us This Day, despite complaints that employees were not paid and children in the homes lacked food and basic necessities, according to stories in Willamette Week. The Oregon Department of Justice found the program misused public funds to pay for travel and luxury goods.

Gene Evans, a spokesman for DHS, said the agency is looking into ways to identify billing and invoice issues that “may be signals of other problems.”

“(Controller) Shawn Jacobsen is aware of issues with missing invoices, incomplete invoices, incorrect billing for children and services, tax issues, garnishments, and other issues like we’d seen at Give Us This Day,” Evans wrote in an email. “We’re asking the question, ‘does that warrant additional follow up, or is there some other reason for the problems?’”

Evans said DHS took note of a point made by state Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, that the potential connection between financial problems and child safety issues could serve as a warning to the state to further investigate.