Saturday, March 21, 2009

Washington State Rep. Joel Kretz... Fights For Justice In Eastern WA

Prosecutor alleges ‘pattern of misconduct’ at DSHS
Meghann M. Cuniff
The Spokesman-Review

Tags: Children’s Protective Services Colville DSHS Tim Rasmussen

A “pattern of misconduct” plagues the Colville office of the Department of Social and Health Services and has resulted in the wrongful removal of foster children, in one instance described in a court ruling as a “draconian solution” to a financial dispute, according to the county prosecutor.
The sharply worded letter, sent Wednesday to Gov. Chris Gregoire, Attorney General Rob McKenna, and more than 30 state legislators and state employees, follows months of investigation by Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen and accuses the office of “shopping” for doctors and counselors to support its agenda, ignoring rules regarding the removal of foster children and contradicting recommendations from health care providers.

Rasmussen’s letter, which calls for state intervention, includes a complaint from a doctor who said a baby became addicted to drugs after being placed on a morphine drip, despite his assurances that the child did not have methamphetamine in its system as state workers suspected.

“It is really unfortunate that this child was put through this degree of trauma at such an early age and I believe it can only be laid at the feet of the (Child Protective Services) workers,” wrote Dr. Barry J. Bacon in a letter dated Nov. 18. Bacon said Friday that he stands by the letter. “I believe that there are some serious problems” with the department, Bacon said.

State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, asked Rasmussen to investigate after receiving what he called “an inordinate” number of complaints about the office.

Kretz spoke with department ombudsman Mary Meining last August and she looked into complaints, but Kretz said Friday he’s hoping for drastic changes in how such complaints are handled.

“I don’t think conventional means are going to get to the bottom of this,” Kretz said. “There’s a culture in that Colville office (NOT JUST THERE!!! ed.)that needs to be weeded out and have some light shown on it.” The Colville office serves Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties.

Connie Lambert-Eckel, deputy regional administrator for the DSHS children’s administration, said she received the letter yesterday and couldn’t comment on specifics.

The department has been working with Rasmussen on his concerns for some time, Lambert-Eckel said, but his letter contains new claims.

“We will be diving into these concerns very appropriately, very responsively, very quickly and very early next week,” she said.

Rasmussen was openly critical of the agency following the high-profile death of Tyler DeLeon, who died of dehydration in 2005 at the age of 7. DeLeon’s adoptive mother, Carole DeLeon, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of criminal mistreatment in a plea deal.

Rasmussen at the time said caseworkers failed to act on signs that the boy was malnourished.

“I think lots of people did let Ty down, starting with the people in the Department of Social and Health Services,” he said in 2007.

The state of Washington recently paid a settlement of more than $6 million to children who were under Carole DeLeon’s care, including $180,000 to the estate of Tyler DeLeon.

Rasmussen’s letter, which doesn’t mention the DeLeon case, details one instance in which a judge blasted the department for removing five foster children on what the court ruled was a “very questionable basis.”

“The court found that removal by the department was done primarily for financial reasons,” Rasmussen wrote. “The court noted its ‘displeasure and sense of outrage at the department having operated the way it did in removing the children,’ and speaks of the department ‘having done a grave disservice’ to the children.”

When the social workers tried to remove two other foster children from that home, the judge refused and called their request “child abuse,” the letter reads.

“Something is very wrong,” Rasmussen wrote.

The letter includes accusations that children have been subjected to forensic examination for sexual molestation when no allegations of abuse exist and ignoring recommendations from Court Appointed Special Advocates. “I hope something comes of it, but we’ll just have to see,” Rasmussen said Friday.

Kretz said the department hides behind bureaucracy and privacy laws.

“We’ve gotten case after case that I can say I have not had my questions answered,” he said. “There needs to be another method to look into problems rather than self examination by an agency.”


Anonymous said...

When will the rest of our State Reps. Step up and speak out. Senator Roach andI am working on a case right now where there 3 approved family members. The kids remain in foster care. Bremerton office as is the usual there. Joel Kretz are the best in our state. The corruption is every where in the state. Some offices worse than others.

infinite freedom said...

Why does Dylan have to suffer every day? Isn't there any way that I can save him?

It just does not make sense to me that I can say openly to everyone everywhere that Dylan is eight years old, and has post traumatic stress disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and detachment disorder because Washington State social workers placed him with a violently abusive drug addict four years ago. Dylan has been on psychiatric drugs since he was taken, and has not seen us for three years, even though he lives close.

Why does Dylan have to suffer and die?

I want to know.

I am glad that we have finally gotten a voice. But what about Dylan. Why does he have to live like this?

There is nothing wrong with me. And sadly enough, there is nothing wrong with Dylan. He has PTSD, ODD, and DD, because of where he is. Why can't I just tell the truth?

And why does no one care?

Because I am only one of hundreds of thousands. Sorry, that answer is just not good enough. And it's not like I wasn't trying to yell my head off about it.

Dylan should be allowed to live WITHOUT abuse!

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful that Joel Kretz and Tim Rasmussen are speaking up. My family is one of the many dealing with the Colville DSHS office. It's not just the office, it's a good portion of the "justice system" up there. Judges that don't hold DSHS accountable when they violate rights, or when they violate the judge's own orders. I hope Tim and Joel can start to help making a change. Now that they're trying to terminate rights for my sister, I doubt it'll help her but I hope they can help some of those other stolen children.

Anonymous said...

Dear Senator Roach,

Our organization has first hand knowledge of what is and what has gone on over in the eastern part of our state.

Many things are going to come out of this investigation and it will be highly publicized.

infinite freedom said...

Anonymous who wrote on March 23rd, please call me. I can help you. These people only terminate parental rights because they can. Not because they should. If you give the Senator your phone number and, I will give her my e-mail, & she won't post it, but she could e-mail your # to me. I saved three children from being put up for adoption about a month ago in Yakima. The woman had done everything, and the state still wanted to terminate. After she did what I told her to do, they dropped it. I would like to be able to help your sister.

infinite freedom said...

Senator, no one sees the pain. If I can save this woman, well, it won't make it better for Dylan, but maybe somehow it will...

Anonymous said...

Please look at Clark County WA-We just spent over a year in court to prove our innocence,of which we prevailed. We immediately tried to get our children we were adopting back home only to be told we had a stop placement on us "until I get a psycological evaluation" and "depending on outcome...."We had this child 4+ years,had just reunited him with brother, almost had sister (we wanted to adopt sibling group to keep them together. Not to mention,our children at home we adopted previously,went through regressive behaviors due to losing their "brothers" The department tells me to have them "move on...." These children were all BONDED! After a year long fight, my husband suffering a heart attack,they want us to "forget". The older boy has called daily since they removed him! And what the department put him through......!!!!Justice needs to be served for these children! NOW !! Please help ...what do we do to this voice crying out to "Why can't I come home now?!" Not to mention ...He has only seen his brother once and his sister not at all since removed!