By: Alex Pappas 03/27/11 8:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer
Officials in Maryland put 32 foster care children in six homes with a history of abuse or neglect, a state audit uncovered.
But the executive director of agency that oversees home placement said officials knew of the findings of neglect and abuse before the children were assigned places to live and granted exceptions -- having determined the children were safe and not at risk of harm.
The review by the state's independent Office of Legislative Audits identified the six caregivers in the homes as having had the children in their care between 2007 and 2010.
State regulations prohibit children from being placed in either foster homes or in the homes of extended family where there has been evidence of abuse or neglect -- unless a local director grants an exception. But the audit said paperwork reflecting that kind of exception could not be found.
The audit said that in all but one of the six homes, the people were kinship providers, meaning they were related to the child.
"It indicated that the kids shouldn't have been in these locations," Bruce Myers, the state's legislative auditor, said of his office's review.
Carnitra White, executive director of the state's Social Services Administration, said local officials made exceptions for the six providers but didn't complete the required paperwork.
"It wasn't the fact that we did not know there had been a finding of abuse or neglect," she said, blaming the mix-up on officials not signing papers.
The area has seen foster parent horror stories before. A woman in Calvert County who adopted three foster care children in D.C. was convicted in 2010 of killing and freezing two of the girls. According to reports, officials in the District allowed her to adopt the girls despite a criminal past.
The instances of abuse or neglect of the six Maryland providers occurred before the state placed children in their homes, White said. She said the agency conducts criminal background checks on all providers.
Almost all of the six had histories of neglect, not abuse, White said. She defined neglect as leaving a child unsupervised or not taking child to a medical appointment, for example.
In a letter responding to the audit, the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which oversees the Social Services Administration, said an internal review was conducted of the six homes and found no evidence of additional child maltreatment. FULL STORY
See how words stung together (abuse and neglect) in the same sentence adopts a different meaning?