Broken System: The People Behind PPP

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

• Background checks were not submitted within 24 months of the last submission dates for at least five employees.

• A child with a known history on inhalant use was allowed to work in a shed where gas containers were accessible. As a result, the child was able to huff gas fumes.

• A staff member initiated a restraint when a child would not back away from the staff member. At the time the restraint was performed, the child's behavior did not meet the definition of an emergency situation.

• A staff member inappropriately initiated an emergency behavior intervention when a child refused to comply with staff and walk outside of the dorm. The child was not a danger to themself or others. Staff also showed a lack of self control in the manner in which they initiated the emergency behavior intervention on the child.

• Based on interviews conducted and documentation reviewed, a direct care staff member did not demonstrate competency, prudent judgment, or self-control in the presence of children when her hand made contact with a resident's face. Another direct care staff member did not exhibit prudent judgment when he engaged in a power struggle with a resident.

• Staff conducted an unreasonable search of residents' bunks when a book was found under the bunk of another resident, where it should not have been.

Co-chairing the PPP was Michael Redden, executive director of New Horizons, which operates two residential treatment centers and a child placement agency. In the last two years, investigators reported the following infractions at New Horizons (repeated verbatim):

• The victim stated he couldn't breath because staff had his hand on his neck which cased him to be dizzy and light headed.

• A child sustained a fractured nose while wrestling with another child. Staff was present but did not stop the children from wrestling and allowed it to continue until one was injured as a result.

• Two children were able to sexually act out while the staff that was supervising the wing was doing laundry and taking a smoke break. One of the girls were sleeping outside of her room in the dayroom in order to be monitored closely by staff. Staff also left the bathroom door unlocked. The staff admitted she left the bathroom door unlocked and stated that the bathroom door is suppose to be kept locked at night. Staff also admitted to taking a smoke break and stated she was right outside of the door. One child stated the incident occurred while the staff was in the laundry room and outside smoking.

• The staff persons on duty allowed a child to walk out of the dining hall unsupervised and failed to follow-up and ensure the child returned home. As a result, the child was left unsupervised and wandered off campus where she was missing for several hours.

• Child had to be admitted to the ER to get her stomach pumped because a medication box with over the counter medications were left unlocked and a child was able to get into the box and take a bottle of ibuprophen.

• A staff person did not use good judgment in calling children demeaning names when he became upset. A staff person did not demonstrate self control when he got mad and threw a water bottle that hit a child.

• At the time of a restraint October 2, 2009, a resident was improperly handled by staff, resulting in a fractured wrist to the resident.

Curtis Mooney, president and CEO of Houston's DePelchin Children's Center, a placement agency, also sat on the PPP. In the past two years, investigators noted the following infractions at DePelchin (repeated here verbatim):

• A baby received bruises and marks to her upper chest area and the caregiver doesn't know how the child received them

• Two children disclosed that the Foster parent has used slapping, shaking, hitting, choking and turning an infant in care upside as a form of punishment. Infant sustained fractures to the bilateral skull, bilateral femur, tibial, and ribs.

• An infant was observed sleeping in a face-down sleeping position.

• Two foster children admitted the foster mother put a foster child in a garage with the lights off as a form of discipline.

• Foster parent failed to use prudent judgment when she bathed a child in care in water that contained bleach.

• Foster parent failed on two occasions to seek medical attention for a child when he fell from his top bunk bed and injured his left eye and when he tripped and fell at a church pinic and hit his head.

• Based on the information obtained during the investigation, the caregiver pinches the children in her care as discipline for their behaviors.

• Two of four foster children were allowed to spend the night at the residence of a relative. The relative did not have a background check.

• Based on the information gathered during the course of the investigation, there is sufficient evidence to support allegation of inappropriate discipline. Four children disclosed being hit by their foster parent, with a hand or object.

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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