10.31.2008

13 Homes Closed!

Arkansas Times

13 Foster Homes Closed

The state has “designated for closure” 13 foster homes because of suspected abuse or neglect over the last two weeks, Department of Human Services spokesperson Julie Munsell confirmed Tuesday. All foster and biological children have been removed from the homes during the agency's investigation, she said.
Munsell attributed the number to an increase in reporting from the field sparked by the department's “campaign of accountability,” which she said had been a “huge theme for us for the last three or four months.” DHS Division of Children and Family Services has been under the gun since revelations that four children died in foster care over the summer and other incidents of abuse.
The State Police hotline, which came under fire at a September hearing for neglecting to pass on to DCFS information that didn't meet a legal definition of maltreatment but may have constituted a licensing violation, now passes screened-out calls on to DCFS, Munsell said.
Munsell said she was checking the division's monthly reports for a comparison, but said the two-week number did seem high, though a small percentage of the 1,100 foster homes licensed in Arkansas.
Of the 13 homes, eight were headed by married couples. The rest were single women. One of the 13 was self-reported, by someone living in the home where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.

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