NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES: Monroe County foster care practices
MONROE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) — In the last couple of weeks, News 8 has reported about a Monroe County couple who has been charged with multiple counts of child abuse, child neglect and false imprisonment.
Amy and Travis Headrick were arrested on August 24th for multiple counts of second degree recklessly endangering safety, neglecting a child and false imprisonment.
In an interview with News 8, Director of Monroe County Human Services Ron Hamilton, says while he can’t comment on this specific case due to privacy laws, he explained the typical practices and procedures coordinators are required to follow before placing children in foster homes.
“It’s an extensive history including background checks, criminal checks, sex offender checks, even financial checks,” he said.
Although Hamilton could not answer questions specifically about the Headricks and their alleged child neglect case, he was able to offer some insight for why the couple was able to foster and adopt for years, despite their long history of alleged child abuse.
Q: “Are you confident that in your 17 years of working here, you have truly looked into the background of each and every single foster parent?”
A: “I can say of the homes that we licensed, I confidently can say that we’ve done that. In homes that we don’t license, we are not involved.”
Q: “Are you implying that the individuals I’m referring to were not licensed by your county?”
A: “I think there’s a conclusion that can be drawn.”
Q: “Is that a yes or no?”
A: “We haven’t licensed that home, I really can’t give out any more information.”
As News 8 reported initially, through a Freedom of Information Act request, we found the Headricks were reported for at least 20 cases of child abuse and neglect between between 2009 and 2015, but they were never charged due to a lack of evidence.
Hamilton says although the Headricks were not licensed by Monroe County to foster children, as long as they are licensed by another agency, they are able to foster from Monroe County.
He says this is common when there is a need for foster care.
And while foster parents don’t have to be licensed by Monroe County, Hamilton says he and his staff may be more vigilant moving forward.
“I think we will have some heightened awareness for quite some time, and we’re going to want to make sure that our kids are in safe placements.”
Monroe County has 34 licensed foster homes but not all of them are currently fostering children.
Hamilton says 8 of the 32 social workers and case managers are involved in child protective services.
When asked about visits to homes, Hamilton says the majority of the monthly visits are announced, unless there is an investigation.
Amy and Travis Headrick will appear in court again on September 24th.
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