I am a little puzzled about the department's quick disclosure in giving out information like they have here. Please tell the Senate Ethics Board. I wonder if they had a signed disclosure statement from the foster parents.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
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Contact: Sherry Hill, 360-902-7892, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 30, 2009
DSHS releases new information on the Langley foster home case
Olympia, WA -- A television news story aired Tuesday, April 28, regarding concerns expressed by foster parents Amy and Dick Langley about actions of the state involving a foster child in their care. The Department of Social and Health Services wants to ensure that anyone reporting on this story is aware of recent legal developments in this case.
The child is in the custody of DSHS pursuant to a dependency proceeding in Snohomish County Juvenile Court and her case is reviewed on an ongoing basis by a judge assigned to hear dependency cases. This judge ruled in March of this year that the foster parents in this case were "not an appropriate placement, based on the court's independent assessment of the evidence." The same judge ordered on Monday that the child be removed from the Langley home and placed into foster care with another family with whom the child is familiar. Children's Administration will comply with the judge's order.
This story reveals the complexity of family and placement issues that Children's Administration must deal with in every case. We have the same goal with every placement – we consider what is in the best interest of the child and where the child will thrive and be safe. Children's Administration must make reasonable efforts to reunify a child with the family if that is at all possible. However, family problems and issues can complicate and sometimes hinder, or halt reunification, and decision’s about a child's placement decision can be delayed or modified because of the change in circumstances.
An additional complexity to this case is that there was a parallel case involving the Langleys concerning their care of another child. Based on a finding from an investigation by Child Protective Services of the Division of Licensed Resources, the Department last year issued a from letter revoking the Langley’s foster care license. The Langleys appealed both the revocation and the finding. On Tuesday, April 28, an Administrative Law Judge determined that the report that lead to the investigation was "unfounded" and ruled that the Langley's foster care license should not be revoked.
While this is a new development, the Snohomish County Juvenile Court judge was fully aware of the finding and licensing appeal and considered them in her March ruling. The relevant provision of the judge's order of March 18, 2009 is: "Regardless of how the CAPTA/licensing hearing turns out the Langleys are not an appropriate placement, based on the court's independent assessment of the evidence. The court remains concerned regarding return home, but also recognizes [the child] cannot remain with the Langleys. The court also recognizes that it would be traumatic to place [the child] in an unknown foster home."
The court ordered that the child was to remain in the Langleys' care temporarily until a final determination could be made on a suitable placement for the child.
The Dependency Court judge evaluates recommendations from parties on child placement, including the child's biological parents and their attorneys, volunteer Guardian Ad Litems, medical and other community professionals, foster parents, DSHS, etc. Although foster parents are not parties in dependency cases, DSHS is required to notify them of hearings and they have the opportunity to present information to the court regarding children in their care. It is the responsibility of the judge to weigh all of the information and recommendations and to ultimately decide the issues relating to the child's placement and the rights of the parents.
After the March court order was issued, Children's Administration notified the court of issues with the birth parents that prevented their scheduled reunification with the child. Complying with the March 18th court order, Children's Administration searched for and found a suitable foster home for the child with a family with whom the child is familiar.
On Monday, April 27, 2009, the Juvenile Court judge issued the following order: "Prior orders entered in this matter shall remain in full force and effect…The child shall remain in DSHS-approved out-of-home care with the [name redacted for privacy] family."
DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran's status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
Gov. Gregoire's statement on foster care
05:49 PM PDT on Thursday, April 30, 2009
Gov. Chris Gregoire released the following statement today regarding foster care in Washington state:
“When a child is abused or neglected, finding that child a safe, permanent home and family is our highest moral and legal duty as a society.
“That demands decisions that are both carefully considered and timely. The sooner a child is placed in a safe, stable home the better it is for the child.
“As a former social worker, I can tell you that the issues and emotions in these case are always complex and the decisions almost never come down to simple choices of black or white, good or evil, as they are often portrayed.
“Child welfare professionals work with the courts and the families as the judicial system attempts to sort it all out and make crucial decisions about the child’s future.
“When it is in the best interests of the child, our first priority is to reunite the family. In fact, the law requires that we make reasonable efforts to reunify a child with the family if that is at all possible. When that’s not possible, we try to place the child with a relative. When neither option will work, we turn to the selfless people in our communities who serve as foster families and are willing to adopt another family’s child.
“I understand how people can come to different conclusions on what’s best for this or any child in these complex and contentious cases. But the ultimate decision, appropriately, comes from the court, as in this case.
“Today is the last day of Child Abuse Prevention Month and tomorrow begins Foster Care Month. That calendar confluence is a perfect time for you and all news media to encourage Washingtonians to report child abuse and neglect, to honor their neighbors who are foster parents, and to consider becoming foster parents themselves.”
(You may want to comment on the KING blog. PR)