By Tessa Roy, WPRO News
Mayor Allan Fung stood in front of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families on Tuesday, accusing Governor Gina Raimondo of “gross mismanagement” and laying out changes he’d make as governor.
Fung largely took issue with Raimondo hiring Jamia McDonald, who he said did not have the degree necessary for such a leadership position, to head the department before Trista Piccola became director last year. He pointed out that McDonald now works for Deloitte, the company associated with the state’s troubled UHIP system.
Fung also claimed Raimondo cut essential staff from DCYF, leaving social workers there overloaded with cases.
“The disaster you see at these two fundamental agencies, DCYF and with the UHIP disaster, have impacted many of our most vulnerable. In this instance, kids,” he said. “It’s a very, not just sad, tragic situation when we’re talking about kids that have died or [been] seriously injured.”
Fung said if elected, he wants to hire 10 new social workers to handle foster care, 20 new social workers to get case loads down, create teams to care for families affected by the opioid crisis, and have DCYF supervisors conduct weekly visits and regular audits of group homes. He said he’ll make room for the new hires by cutting members of upper management who make “six figure salaries.”
Raimondo’s team said Fung is ignoring the governor’s “record of reform” and is politicizing kids in a “desperate” attempt to save his “failing campaign.” Raimondo’s team also hit Fung for not specifically condemning President Donald Trump for the separation of families at the border.
“Turning around an agency that was in crisis for decades takes five to seven years, according to the experts. There is a great risk of going backwards on our reform of DCYF without sustained, strong leadership and commitment to changing systems in place for decades. Governor Raimondo is committed to finishing the job,” said Raimondo campaign Senior Advisor Mike Raia. “Allan Fung would rather politicize tragedy than support reforms that are protecting Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children. Today, the greatest threat faced by vulnerable Rhode Islanders is President Trump’s effort to take away their affordable, quality healthcare by destroying the Affordable Care Act. Governor Raimondo will continue to protect Rhode Islanders against President Trump’s agenda.”
Raia also said Raimondo has taken action to improve the state’s foster care system, reporting laws, and healthcare coverage for children.