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Local Foster Company "Contemporary Family Services" Put Kids at Risk

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on Mon, 08/13/2012 - 07:17
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Contemporary Family Services, the second-largest foster care company in Maryland, is accused of falsifying records, misusing funds, now faces rare state sanctions until issues are corrected, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

Maryland's Department of Human Resources is scrutinizing a large, Hyattsville-based foster child care provider over allegations of shoddy administrative practices which could have put many children at risk.

According to a report from The Baltimore Sun, Contemporary Family Services, the second-largest foster care company in the state, did not adequately assess background checks and the training levels of the foster parents in its network. As a result, state officials have stopped placing foster children through the company effective in mid-February.

The administration has … determined that you have not acted to protect the health, safety and well-being of your agency's foster children from the special risk arising from living outside their homes by your failure to document timely reassessments. - Letter from DHR to Contemporary Family Services

The company has more than 150 foster children living under the care of about 230 parents throughout the state.

Letters obtained by The Baltimore Sun detail the state's investigation of Contemporary Family Services, which is based out of University Town Center. The state noted audit discrepancies which allege that executives paid for personal expenses with company money. The company also owes about 10 years of back taxes to the IRS amounting to $2.8 million.

The company's executive director, John L. Monroe, blamed the situation on the work of former employees and said he is trying to steer the company out of stormy waters.

"We are moving forward," Monroe told The Baltimore Sun. "We are doing God's work and moving a lot of negative energy out there."

The revelations come on the heels of the death of a child, born to a teenage mother, living in a Contemporary Family Service's home in Glen Burnie last week, however DHR spokesperson Ian Hines said that his agency had been investigating the company long before that. The death is also being investigated by DHR. Anne Arundel Count Police told The Baltimore Sun that the death did not appear to be suspicious, however it remains under investigation pending the final results of an autopsy. Monroe told the paper that the child had a serious asthma attack and had a history of heart problems.

This is the second time the state has looked into the company since 2011. That year, state officials suspended placements with Contemporary Family Services for six months. 

Hines told The Baltimore Sun that placement moratoriums are rarely taken against foster care companies.

"Sanctions against foster care companies are 'not routine,' and revoking the contract would be an unusual step, Hines said, because the agency is concerned with causing more turmoil in the lives of foster children."

The moratorium will last at least 60 days, starting in mid-February. Between now and the end of the moratorium, the company will have to come up with a plan to fix the issues raised by state officials. Monroe told The Baltimore Sun that he plans to have a corrective plan filed by Feb. 9.

By Michael Theis