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October 4, 2007 permalink
A Kentucky whistleblower reports that she was required to arrange a dangerous adoption, and was fired for refusing to ignore complaints about the adoptive parents. All for the love of (tax) money. Since no local whistleblowers have come forward, Ontario can still pretend such abuses do not occur here.
Posted on Tue, Oct. 02, 2007
State pays $380,000 to former social worker
SUIT WAS FILED OVER ADOPTION DISPUTE
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears, VHONEYCUTT@HERALD-LEADER.COM
The state has paid $380,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former social worker who said she was urged to arrange an inappropriate adoption so the state could get federal bonus money.
In the lawsuit filed in 2005 against the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Pat Moore of Elsmere said her supervisors harassed and ultimately fired her because she would not ignore a half-dozen allegations of abuse in a foster home.
In addition, both foster parents had criminal records. A son living in the home had been convicted of multiple felonies, including drug convictions, and the foster mother's brother, described in court documents as a pedophile convicted of sex crimes, had been in the home around the foster children.
Moore said in her suit that the cabinet was forcing an adoption to keep its numbers high. She alleged that was because the federal government gave the state federal money for each adoption from foster care that was approved.
In a second, unrelated case, the state paid $45,000 to former social worker Katherine Siereveld, who said she was forced to rush investigations of alleged abuse.
Siereveld, who worked in Grant County, said the cabinet put unrealistic expectations on social workers and that led to poor practices. She said she was fired for voicing complaints.
As part of a confidentiality agreement, neither the former workers' attorney, Shane Sidebottom, or cabinet officials may discuss the settlement in detail.
But in both Aug. 8 settlements, the cabinet denies violating any policy or procedures or breaking any law.
The money was paid "solely in order to compromise a disputed claim for the purpose of avoiding further controversy or litigation," the settlement said.
As for the former social workers, Sidebottom said yesterday: "My clients are happy to resolve all claims amicably and put this matter behind them."
In her lawsuit, Moore said she was fired because she criticized her supervisors.
The supervisors insisted, she said, that two foster children be placed with an adoptive family in Verona in Boone County even though the family, among other problems, allowed the convicted sex offender to be around the children.
Court records show that cabinet supervisors pushed for the adoption even though those same supervisors acknowledged in a 2004 report that the home should never have been approved. Also, a private foster care agency deemed the home unfit.
The adoption was stopped only when a Campbell County judge refused to let it go through.
Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been under scrutiny for its handling of adoptions from state foster care since January 2006, when two child-advocacy groups issued a report.
Accusations of inappropriate removals from biological families led to a cabinet inspector general's investigation, and more recently to the announcement that the state intends to fire six social workers based in Hardin County.
Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397.
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader