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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Another Foster Care Fail: Kids Sleep in Attic of Home Full of Lunatics, Perverts, and Drug Addicts
By Hawaii State Auditor @ 4:01 AM :: 3455 Views :: Ethics, Family

Foster Kids Sleep in Attic of Home Full of Lunatics, Perverts, and Drug Addicts

The State Auditor studied 30 'child-specific' foster homes to produce Report 24-05, released April 22, 2024.  Here is one of the 30:

“Largely Noncompliant”

Hawaii State Auditor, Report No. 24-05, Apr 22, 2024 (pg 34)

Missing numerous licensing requirements, a resource caregiver ignored contractor’s weekly and monthly phone calls, text messages, and emails for nearly a year. Nevertheless, CWSB awarded the caregiver seven extensions to her provisional certificate, allowing the home to operate without a license for nearly 17 months.

On November 2, 2021, a child-specific resource caregiver home was granted a 90-day provisional certificate to care for four children. CWSB would approve seven extensions to the provisional certificate despite the resource caregiver’s failure to complete the FBI fingerprinting and concerns about drug use and unsafe living conditions reported by Catholic Charities.

On April 5, 2022, CWSB simultaneously approved two extensions to the provisional certificate, the first retroactively dated to be effective from February 1, 2022, and the second extending the certificate through May 31, 2022. At the time the extensions were granted, the caregiver had not completed the required FBI and state criminal background clearances, submitted personal references, obtained TB clearances, medical and clinical reports, or had a home study conducted by Catholic Charities. Moreover, by this point, four mandatory background clearances conducted prior to placement were no longer current; according to DHS procedures, child abuse and neglect registry clearances, Hawai‘i Criminal Justice Information System clearances, and state and national sex abuse registry clearances are only valid for one year.

On May 24, 2022, while conducting a visit of the home, a CWSB licensing worker noted the presence of a man outside of the house who was gathering his belongings and preparing to leave. The caregiver explained that the man was her brother, who is impaired due to injuries sustained in prior years. For years, the brother had come to the home to sit outside and wait for their father, who had passed away. While the caregiver confirmed that the brother talks to himself, she said that he had not exhibited aggressive behavior toward the children who had become accustomed to his presence.

On June 14, 2022, CWSB approved another extension of the provisional certificate, retroactive to June 1, 2022 and effective through July 30, 2022. The extension was granted despite CWSB’s repeated efforts to contact the resource caregiver about providing required documents, including FBI and state criminal history clearances for an adult son living at the home. As chronicled by a CWSB licensing worker on October 10, 2022, the licensing worker requested assistance from a CWSB social worker, relaying challenges in getting the caregiver to complete licensing requirements or even respond.

The social worker contacted the caregiver on February 8, 2023, and reminded her of the pending requirements. The next day, outstanding documentation notwithstanding, CWSB simultaneously approved four more provisional certificates, for a total of 193 days, retroactive to July 31, 2022 and effective through February 9, 2023. Along with the email informing the caregiver of the extensions, the CWSB licensing worker attached instructions for FBI fingerprinting to the email because the caregiver’s adult son had yet to comply with this requirement. The worker also included a warning: “I can’t stress enough that it’s important that these requirements are completed soon as your home can’t remain on a provisional license.”

Nine days after the final extension was approved, the home was closed, and three minor children were removed due to sex abuse allegations. One child was already aged out at 18 and lived elsewhere.

On February 22, 2023, Catholic Charities prepared a Child Specific Resource Home Closing Summary noting the resource caregiver had been largely noncompliant during the licensing process. In addition to the caregiver’s failure to complete more than a half-dozen licensing requirements, the summary cited previous concerns about a deranged uncle smoking a metal pipe and a child potentially sleeping in an unventilated attic. According to Catholic Charities, the resource caregiver had not responded to the agency’s weekly and monthly phone calls, text messages, and emails for nearly a year while continuing to care for multiple foster children….

read … Full Report

DO THE MATH: 993 foster homes / 30 = 33 undiscovered nightmare sex abuse homes

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Hawaii State Auditor, Report No. 24-05, Apr 22, 2024 (excerpts)

...We found that DHS allowed children to be in unlicensed child-specific homes, i.e., those with only provisional certificates, for many months, sometimes even more than a year, by approving multiple consecutive provisional certificates to the same home. Our random sample of roughly 10 percent of CWSB’s “active” licensing files included 30 child-specific homes. None of those homes completed the licensing requirements within 60 days, and none of the children in those homes were removed, as directed under DHS’ licensing procedures. For those homes in our sample, the licensing process took an average of 314 days. Many child-specific homes had been caring for foster children for more than 60 days but had not completed the licensing requirements as of the date on which we reviewed the department’s files. For example, DHS had approved multiple provisional certificates to one of those homes that covered 720 days – and counting. We found that CWSB extended or issued additional provisional certificates and often retroactively dated those certificates to cover periods when children were in homes with expired provisional certificates. This common practice allowed children to stay indefinitely in homes that had not, and in some cases could not, meet the requirements that DHS, itself, had established to ensure that homes were safe.

CWSB also did not monitor or evaluate Catholic Charities’ performance to ensure the services the State paid for were delivered. In fact, Social Services Division staff involved in contracting were unaware that they were legally required to do so. Although DHS was aware Catholic Charities was underperforming, it continued paying the contractor’s invoices and, in 2023, extended Catholic Charities’ licensing contract, and a separate support services contract, for another two years. The contract’s payment structure is “cost reimbursement,” where the State pays Catholic Charities up to $2 million per year, essentially reimbursing Catholic Charities’ personnel and administrative costs associated with the contract. However, reimbursement of those costs is expressly conditioned on Catholic Charities satisfactorily delivering the services required in the contract. We found that DHS reimbursed Catholic Charities’ costs without regard to performance of the services; the department’s payment process effectively removed the requirement that the contracted services be “satisfactorily performed.” ...

The CWSB Administrator identified the branch’s licensing of foster homes as the activity posing the most risk to children, telling us: “If a child gets hurt in a home that’s not licensed, it’s devastating and the liability around that is huge … You don’t even place children in a home that is not licensed [or] licensable.”  The Administrator’s comment clearly reflects her concern about the risk to children placed in homes that have not completed the requirements the department determined are necessary to provide assurance that homes are safe and healthy environments for children under the DHS’ care....

In addition, the State lost a significant amount of Title IV-E federal funds.  Those funds, which reimburse the State for eligible foster care payments, are accessible for payments to licensed homes; the State was not able to claim the Title IV-E funds for foster homes with provisional certificates.

With respect to the contracts with Catholic Charities licensing support services, one purpose of which was to expedite the licensing of child-specific homes, DHS did not hold Catholic Charities accountable for performing the services under the contract. As we found, DHS’ licensing of child-specific homes was neither expedited nor in accordance with legal requirements. Without any monitoring program and confusion between offices as to which was responsible for ensuring performance of the contract, DHS essentially reimbursed Catholic Charities’ personnel and administrative costs without ensuring that satisfactory performance of the services. That approach resulted in a waste of state funds....

PDF: Read Full Report

PDF: Download Summary

LINK: Title IV-E – Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance - SJI Funding Toolkit

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CB: State Failed To Comply With Laws For Licensing Foster Homes And Put Children At Risk  --  The 82-page audit released Monday was ordered by lawmakers in 2022 via Senate Concurrent Resolution 102. The resolution specifically cited the death of 6-year-old Ariel Sellers — also known as Isabella Kalua — in Waimanalo the previous year.

HNN: Audit: State is placing foster kids in unlicensed homes, despite ‘huge’ risk

SA Editorial: Foster care system needs serious help


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