Six months after the last confirmed sighting of Relisha Rudd, the D.C. government released a report declaring it could not have prevented the homeless child’s presumed abduction by a shelter janitor.
The review, conducted by the deputy mayors for education and health and safety, did, however, put forth several recommendations aimed at the agencies and organizations that had contact with Relisha and her family. That includes the Child and Family Services Agency, the Department of Behavioral Health, D.C. Public Schools, and the Department of Human Services, as well as DHS contractor The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness. Now, six months after that, the majority of those recommendations have been completed, while the rest are still “ongoing” or under review.
Of the 26 recommendations put forth in the report, 15 were completed as of Feb. 27, according to an oversight document submitted to the D.C. Council. The completed recommendations include updating the fraternization policy for employees of TCP, which runs the D.C. General homeless shelter, and training on truancy reporting at DCPS. (After several unexcused absences and dubious notes from “Dr. Tatum,” DCPS failed to refer Relisha’s case to CFSA within the required time to allow her “mother additional time to collect the medical documentation required to justify” the absences, the review found.)
Among the ongoing recommendations: the implementation of a policy to require cases workers to “review all historical information” available in order to identify families with ongoing, as opposed to one-time, issues. To satisfy three ongoing recommendations to ensure that all D.C. agencies and contractors are taking a centralized approach to serving children and families, CFSA, DHS, and DBH “have developed a unified case planning process” that will be tested this month. The deputy mayors’ report found that, though the “agencies knew of the involvement of the other agencies,” they “did not consistently share information or consistently convene interagency team meetings with case managers at these agencies.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration, the document states, is reviewing three recommendations, including one to require screening against the Child Protective Registry of employees who may interact with minors. That registry is “a confidential database of people known or strongly suspected to have abused or neglected children in D.C.”
Relisha was last seen on March 1, 2014 in the company of D.C. General janitor Kahlil Tatum, who was found dead by suicide a short time later. On the one-year anniversary of her disappearance, Bowser and D.C. police held a press conference, not to share new information, but to ask the public to share any information that could potentially lead to Relisha.
Photo courtesy MPD