DHS reviewing policies in wake of investigation into foster agen - WNEM TV 5

DHS reviewing policies in wake of investigation into foster agency

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Omarion Humphrey Omarion Humphrey

A lack of supervision and inadequate training are just two of the several violations revealed in the 44-page state investigation into the Burton-based Alternatives for Children and Families.

And maybe most concerning, violations investigated well before 9-year-old Omarion Humphrey wandered away and drowned while in the foster agency's care.

"If any more kids die, then we failed again, everybody failed," said Jamell Humphrey, Omarion’s father.

Jamell Humphrey doesn't think his son should have ever been in the agency’s care.

He said the Department of Health and Human Services should have shut down Alternatives before Omarion's death.

TV5 started asking tough questions in Lansing.

Bob Wheaton is a DHS spokesman.

"We always do monitoring of our child-placing agencies, so that's something we always do, but when something like this tragedy happens, we take a closer look," Wheaton said. "We review not only that case, but we go back and check a sample of previous cases."

Wheaton said that sample is what uncovered the 44-pages worth of violations. As DHS pieced investigation together, they recognized the pattern of problems.

"Nothing had risen to the level previously where there was a decision made to take the action of revoking the agency's license," Wheaton said. "That's something that is not all that common and will typically happen in the most serious of situations."

But it's Omarion's death that also put DHS in check of its own procedures.

"When something like this happens, we will take a look at practices we can put in place to provide better oversight," Wheaton said.

Wheaton said that includes revamping its oversight process of contracted foster agencies.

Wheaton expects Alternatives for Children to appeal the state's decision to revoke its license, and it could be a couple months before the director makes the final decision.

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