Records of arrest are found in probe
The case of a child who was killed in foster care prompted the review.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- A foster parent served nine days in jail for receiving stolen property and was ordered into a drug treatment program. Another was accused of pulling a knife on someone and was sentenced to a year's probation and ordered to take anger management classes.
Yet they continued to care for foster children, officials said.
Just halfway through background checks of Hamilton County's foster parents, officials discovered 27 licensed foster parents with arrests on charges including welfare fraud, assault and domestic violence -- and even one for child endangering. They had gone unnoticed because eventual convictions, if any, weren't felonies that would require removing the child.
The review was prompted by the case of 3-year-old Marcus Fiesel, who was killed while in foster care in neighboring Clermont County. County officials are creating a system that would send an alert to child welfare investigators every time a criminal charge against a foster parent is entered in court clerk computers.
The boy, who was developmentally disabled and originally from Hamilton County, was left wrapped in a blanket and packing tape in a closet for two days while his foster parents went to a family reunion in Kentucky in August. He was dead when his foster parents, Liz Carroll and David Carroll Jr., returned home.
Liz Carroll was convicted of murder and David Carroll pleaded guilty to murder last month. It was only after the boy's death that authorities discovered David Carroll had an arrest on a domestic violence charge that had gone undetected because of infrequent background checks.
The Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services has refreshed background checks on 304 parents licensed through the county. Another 445 licensed through private agencies still have to be reviewed, but infighting between the JFS and county officials has stalled the process, clerk of courts Greg Hartmann said.
In most of the 27 cases, the charges were dismissed or reduced to lesser charges that would allow the foster parents to continue caring for children. Hartmann released the list of arrests but not the foster parents' names, citing privacy laws. Under state law, convictions on some felony charges preclude applicants from becoming foster parents.
Still, child welfare officials can review the fitness of parents case by case, County Commissioner Pat DeWine said.
In one instance, a foster father was accused of leaving two children in a car in 93-degree heat while he went shopping. A child endangering charge was reduced to inducing panic, and he was ordered to complete probation and attend parenting classes.
"You would think somebody at JFS would say he should not have a child," DeWine said.
JFS Director Rick Roberts said his office was checking to make sure the arrest reports were accurate before deciding whether to remove children from the homes.
DeWine and Hartmann complained that JFS' refusal to release the names of foster parents overseen by private agencies is holding up the checks and creation of the alert system.
"This is very frustrating," Hartmann said. "It's not my information. I can only deal with what they are willing to give me."
JFS supports the notification system, but it also must ensure it acts appropriately toward foster parents, Roberts said. New foster parents must submit to the checks and enroll in the system, but the county needs permission before adding the existing foster parents.
The two sides are scheduled to meet today to work out details of how the notification system should work.