March 22, 2009
Prosecutor finds misconduct at Colville DSHS office
The Associated Press
COLVILLE, stevens county – The Stevens County prosecutor says he’s found a “pattern of misconduct” at the Colville office of the Department of Social and Health Services.
The Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane reported Saturday that Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen sent a sharply worded letter about the office last week to Gov. Chris Gregoire, Attorney General Rob McKenna and 30 other state employees and lawmakers.
Rasmussen accused the office of removing foster children from their caregivers without cause and of “shopping” for doctors and counselors to support its agenda. The letter included accusations that children have been subjected to forensic exams to look for evidence of sexual molestation when no allegations of abuse exist.
The Department of Social and Health Services faces misconduct accusations at its office in Stevens County.
His letter included a complaint from a doctor who said that even after he determined that a baby didn’t have methamphetamine in its system, DSHS’ Child Protective Services ordered the child be placed on a morphine drip. The result, said Dr. Barry Bacon, was that the baby became addicted.
“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 CPS workers,” Bacon wrote.
Rasmussen also noted that a judge blasted the department for removing five foster children on what the court deemed 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 social workers tried to remove two other foster children from that home, the judge refused and called their request “child abuse,” Rasmussen wrote.
Connie Lambert-Eckel, deputy regional administrator for the DSHS children’s administration, said the department has been working with Rasmussen on his concerns for some time, but that his letter contains new allegations that she couldn’t immediately address.
“We will be diving into these concerns very appropriately, very responsively, very quickly and very early next week,” she told the newspaper.
State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, said he asked Rasmussen to investigate after receiving complaints about the office.