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DSHS: More scrutiny of foster parents

Letter by Toni E. Magelssen, Tacoma on June 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm with 10 Comments »
June 9, 2011 3:23 pm

The Department of Social and Health Services settled a lawsuit for foster care abuse in the amount of $7.3 million on June 4, 2011. DSHS paid out $6.2 million in 2007, $6 million in 2008, $2 million in 2009 and $2.5 million in 2010 for just four individual cases.

How much would the total be if it were compiled for the last 20 years? How many of these cases involved substance abuse and/or the foster parent’s criminal history being ignored?

The DSHS secretary has a lengthy list of crimes and negative actions which is supposed to be referred to for foster parent licensing. In the most recent case – a $7.3 million award – the foster parent’s crimes were overlooked.

Of equal concern is the foster parent licensing process. It defies common sense that it does not require an individual to be tested for drug and/or alcohol use. Just because an individual has no criminal history doesn’t mean there isn’t substance abuse. If a foster parent applicant isn’t willing to be tested, perhaps a child has been protected and a lawsuit avoided.

The state of Washington and DSHS should do everything possible to protect children placed in their care. A law needs to be passed to require all foster care applicants to be processed for substance abuse, and a provision needs to be included for random checks after the license is issued.

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Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. itwasntmethistime says:

    There aren’t enough foster parents because the state has made it such a pain in the butt to become one. They treat prospective parents like criminals until proven otherwise and mandate pages and pages of ridiculous rules. I know several perfectly normal, non-criminal, non drug-using families who have looked into it and dropped it when they saw all the hoops they had to jump through.

  2. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    How about more scrutinty of Susan Dryfuss, the head of DSHS? She allowed thousands of people to collect over payments on welfare and nothing has lbeen raised as an issue about her? Why izat?

  3. bristoldog says:

    My wife and I recently took in a young man as fictive kin. Maybe it is a little different, but it really was not that bad of a process. Sure there is a lot of paper work, but considering the responsibility involved, it should be tough.

  4. How about more funding for scrutiny?

    Well that should throw a bucket of cold water on the idea.

    “I want more services, but don’t raise my taxes”

  5. schipperke says:

    The foster parenting licensing process should be an in depth process up to and including testing for drug/alcohol abuse for the protection children. One lawsuit avoided due to drug/alcohol testing could amount to an average $4.8 million a year based just five cases for the last five years (which is not all of the cases). On a daily basis that amounts to $13,333 per day which would be available for drug/alcohol testing and/or a reduction in liability insurance for the DSHS.

  6. cclngthr says:

    Having parents who were foster parents for many years, I think the process should be tough to become a foster parent due to the climate we are in. When my parents were foster parents, several issues changed as time passed. At one time the state required us to have a fire extinguisher installed in the home ajacent to the kitchen area, a lock box for all medication, and more extensive criminal background checks. Additional rules such as discipline practices and lifestyle examinations became a requirement.

    We have to assume people are inherently stupid and their actions have to be thoroughly scrutinized in order to qualify to become a foster parent.

    Wth the proliferation of illegal/prescription drug use, we have to take the position that all drugs should be considered to become a foster parent. With more kids being exposed and using drugs at a young age, we have to take the position that drug use should be zero for foster parents and their family.

  7. schipperke says:

    I checked with the State of Washington Office of Financial Management and DSHS is self insured which means the $7.3 million settlement along with all the others is tax payer funds. The cost of making drug/alcohol testing part of the foster care licensing process is an additional way to protect children and be financially responsible. What is the State of Washington and DSHS thinking!! There is no way that drug testing would cost $13,333 per day.

  8. If the DSHS were to try and get insurance,I think it would be almost impossible to find any company,knowing the States history, on the amount it has to pay out in claims,Would just say,NO THANKS!As it is now all the Department has to do is hand the bill to the taxpayer and say,Pay This!Don’t ask why,JUST PAY IT!!!

  9. cclngthr says:

    sincere,
    Don’t you think the accountability of the agency is a bit off? I think it is, and lawsuits brought on by abused kids and other people are to have the agency be accountable for its inaction.

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