Broken System: The People Behind PPP

Some members of DFPS's Public-Private Partnership run facilities that have problems of their own.

In December 2010, the Department of Family and Protective Service's Public-Private Partnership panel issued its recommendations on a foster care redesign.

The findings were the result of input from Child Protective Services, private foster care placement agencies, state-run child placement divisions, district court judges and directors of facilities that oversee foster children of varying needs. The PPP also reported that "3,000 stakeholders participated in foster care redesign presentations, meetings and public forums."

Specifically, the PPP was asked to focus on issues involving contracting, payments and geographic disbursement of services. Its recommendations were in keeping with certain quality indicators, including the primary one: "First and foremost, children are safe in their placements."

But based on DFPS violation records, some members of the PPP — those driving the redesign of the entire system — run facilities that seem to have problems hiring competent staff and/or finding decent foster parents, which can lead to safety issues.

Lynn Harms is president of Children's Home of Lubbock, which operates as both a residential center and a placement agency. In the last two years, according to DFPS records, replicated here verbatim, investigators reported the following:

• A child was made to sit at the table 8:45 AM to 3:00 PM daily during spring break as a form of punishment to do school work that was not sent from school.

• Bleach was poured on a child's hands while he held his soiled underwear as a form of punishment for refusing to wipe his buttocks. The bleach caused a rash on his hands and wrists.

• The children were made to eat a cup of vegetables before they could eat the remainder of the meal. One of the children refused to eat the cup of vegetables and did not eat for two and one half days.

• The child consistently stated to investigator and facility staff that he was whooped with a belt by the caregiver.

• The male residents were urinating in a bottle in their bedrooms because the foster parents did not want the alarms to be set off during the night.

• The foster parents threatened to take a foster child back to the foster child's previous placement if the child did not "straighten up." The foster parents ended up demanding the foster children be removed from their home immediately or law enforcement would be called.

• Administrative staff was aware that a foster child was slapped by the foster mother. This incident was not reported to Licensing.

• During a sampling inspection conducted on 12-29-10 it was determined that the foster parents handed their biological children medications to deliver to the foster children. These medications were then delivered by the biological children to the foster children, not under the supervision of the foster parents.

• During a sampling visit conducted on 12-29-10, it was determined that the foster mother had her cousin living in the home. No background check was conducted on the cousin.

• During my interview with one child in the child's room, the child's sibling reported that the foster father stood outside of the bedroom and listened to the interview. The child's sibling who observed this did not want to answer certain questions because the child knew that the foster dad was listening. This child whispered during the interview in order to not be heard by the foster parents.

• While I was speaking with this child's sibling, the foster mother told this child to keep a secret. The child reported that the secret was that the child was not sleeping in the bed with the foster parents.

Also sitting on the PPP was Scott Lundy, president and COO of Arrow Child and Family Ministries. In the last two years at Arrow, investigators reported the following (repeated here verbatim):

• A non-verbal autistic child has bruises that he nor the foster parent can offer an explantion for.

• Several residents (foster children) of a foster home witnessed a foster parent push and choke another resident (foster child) in the home.

• Firearms and ammunition are not being stored in separate locked storage units.

• Several school officials noted that the foster children came to school in clothes that were too large or small. One school official stated the prior week the foster child came to school in sweat pants that were not appropriate for the weather.

• Children in care were allowed to physically discipline other children in care.

• The caregiver used poor judgment when she left children with an unauthorized caregiver overnight without a car seat, a change of clothing, personal hygiene items and their medication.

• There is no record of a background check being completed on a relative that spends the night at the foster home frequently.

Robert Ellis, CEO of Pegasus, also took part in the state's complete redesign of foster care. In the last two years, investigators reported the following infractions at Pegasus (repeated here verbatim):

• Based on interviews conducted and documentation reviewed, there is enough evidence to indicate caregivers have not used the minimal amount of reasonable and necessary force in some circumstances.

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My Voice Nation Help

I want my children out of this system now. Anne Heiligenstein actually deems the state more fit than myself?!?! I have dedicated my blog to the ongoing trials with this agency. I have correspondence from Govenor Perry's office to Senator Patrick's office and Anne Heiligenstein and HER OCA. Please read

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