Below are two very recent examples of case workers responsible for making decision concerning foster youth in “their best interest.” Unfortunately these are not isolated situations but rather examples can be found acrossd the country on a daily basis.
Yes, there are great case workers as well as these that should be eliminated but the system as a whole is a failure and detroying the lives of thousands of youth yearly and MUST be reformed!
RANBY, Mo. — The foster parents of eight children are accused of smoking marijuana with a state social worker who was checking on a child in their home.
Granby foster parents Wayne Anthony O’Neal Sr., 32, and Christel J. O’Neal, 29, along with Nova G. Propes, 44, a caseworker with the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services, were charged Monday in Newton County Circuit Court with two counts each of second-degree child endangerment.
The O’Neals had as many as eight foster children and two of their own children living with them earlier this month when marijuana allegedly was smoked in their home, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed with the court.
The affidavit stated that a 17-year-old foster child told a county sheriff’s deputy about marijuana use in the home and provided pictures she took of drugs in the home.
The sheriff’s office executed a search warrant and found drug paraphernalia, according to the affidavit.
Wayne O’Neal told investigators that he smoked marijuana almost every day in the master bedroom and that his wife and Propes had smoked with him there on several occasions when Propes conducted in-home visits with one of the foster children, the affidavit said.
TULSA — A state Department of Human Services worker failed to properly investigate accusations a boy was being abused in the weeks leading up to his death and faked reports to cover up the blunder, a new report has revealed.
DHS discovered the fabricated reports only after the boy was murdered by his father, according to a special report that a state oversight agency prepared at the request of The Oklahoman.
Keenan Taylor, 2, died from burns on June 9, 2005, a day after he was scalded by boiling water at his home.
The DHS “intake” worker reported he’d checked on the boy and three other children two weeks earlier because of abuse complaints but found no problems at the father’s home.
The worker actually may not have interviewed or observed the boy at all then, the special report shows.
Also, a DHS supervisor found key witnesses were never interviewed even though reports reflect the worker questioned them, records show.
The worker resigned after he was confronted about inaccuracies in his investigative reports, the oversight agency’s report shows.
The tragedy is an extreme example of a recurring problem at the agency — workers sometimes fail to check on a child’s welfare then falsify reports to show they did.
Some former employees have told The Oklahoman that workers make phony reports because they are struggling with high caseloads and are under extreme pressure from supervisors to make documentation a priority.
“They chose to put these kids in these types of situations and then they don’t follow up and they lie about following up,” said Keenan’s grandfather, Archie Taylor, who is suing DHS and current and former DHS employees.
“It was like they were just half doing their job,” said Taylor, a Tulsa aircraft machinist whose daughter is Keenan’s mother. “I want to make sure that this don’t happen to other kids, and the only way to do that is to expose DHS.”
DHS Director Howard Hendrick did not respond directly to a request for comment. Instead, DHS spokesman George Johnson said, “When we hire and train staff to do a job, we have to rely on a certain amount of trust and honesty.
“With a work force the size of ours, that trust is going to be violated. That’s why we have policies in place to address those issues when they do occur.”
In Keenan’s case, both the worker who faked reports and a “permanency” worker resigned shortly after the boy’s death, records show. The permanency worker failed twice to turn in accusations of mistreatment for possible investigation, records show.
Keenan’s father, Carlis Anthony Ball, 25, is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the boy’s death. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and neglect at a trial last year.
Prosecutors say Ball deliberately poured scalding water on his son, burning 50 percent of the boy’s body, on June 8, 2005. Ball allegedly then stuck the boy in a dirty bedroom closet overnight. Ball watched a movie, had sex with a girlfriend and went shopping in the hours after the boy was burned, according to testimony at his trial.
Ball called for help the next afternoon and claimed he accidentally knocked a pot of boiling water on Keenan while cooking, according to testimony. Ball said he had not realized at first the boy was burned so badly, court records show.
DHS disclosed to prosecutors its intake worker had done an inaccurate investigation. DHS did not discuss the fraud in its only public report on the case. The majority of DHS records on the case remain confidential by law.
The Oklahoman discovered the fraud as part of its ongoing inquiry into DHS. It is unclear if the worker faked the records before or after Keenan died.
The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth last week revealed some details about the fraud in an 11-page report based in large part on a review of DHS records.
The oversight agency did not name the employees in the report.
However, a DHS attorney identified Granville L. Haynes II and Billie J. Mayberry as the two child-welfare specialists who resigned to avoid being fired for their actions in the case.
DHS will not represent Haynes and Mayberry in the lawsuit, said the attorney, Richard Freeman Jr.
The former employees could not be reached for comment. “I just cannot take any more of the pressure,” Mayberry said in her resignation letter.
The Commission on Children and Youth reported:
Keenan had been placed with his father on Dec. 23, 2004, after his mother tested positive for marijuana and cocaine. Ball was allowed to care for the boy even though he had been in trouble with the police and DHS before. He was caring for three other kids.
Complaints about the father were made to DHS in 2005 on Feb. 25, April 4, May 3, May 20, May 24, May 25 and June 7.
The accusations included claims that the father had whipped Keenan with a belt, that his children were dirty and smelled of urine, and that he was “smoking marijuana all the time.”
Many of the complaints were not even investigated.
DHS supervisors questioned whether the intake worker really checked on the boy on May 23, 2005, two weeks before the death. The worker reported he had found the apartment clean on May 23, 2005, the four children there showed no signs of abuse or neglect and there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol.
However, after Keenan’s death, his body was found to have injuries at various stages of healing, and two other children in the home had a pattern of marks on their bodies consistent with abuse and neglect.
Confronted by a supervisor after the death, the intake worker “had difficulty in locating the case notes and could not recall spe”ific information about the investigation.
The supervisor checked with people who were reportedly interviewed by the intake worker and determined that the worker never interviewed certain key people.
It remains unknown as to whether Keenan was interviewed or observed by the intake worker.
In the lawsuit:
In his lawsuit, the grandfather blames DHS for Keenan’s death, saying workers failed to take steps to remove the boy from an abusive situation. The grandfather alleges Keenan’s civil rights were violated.
The grandfather’s attorney, James Linger, said he learned about the faked records after filing the lawsuit last year. He said he found the evidence this summer when a Tulsa County judge allowed him to review almost 6,000 pages of confidential DHS records. He said he is not allowed to discuss what he found.