Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another "collector family" gets big money, while abusing the foster children in their care

Couple with 11 foster kids arrested
Teenagers allege sexual, physical abuse in home
Parents receiving over $100 grand a year to care for children, officials say
Rosenberg, Katherine. Victorville Daily Press, Jan. 14, 2007.

VICTORVILLE — A report of sexual molestation led to the discovery of a large foster family with an equally large government-supplied bankroll, raising suspicions with local law enforcement.

Eleven adopted and foster children were removed from a Skipper Lane address in Brentwood this week after two teenage girls reported being molested by a 23-year-old man living in the house, sheriff’s officials said.

The parents, Barbara Taylor and her unnamed husband were also arrested, as they are suspected to have physically abused the children and had knowledge of the sexual abuse taking place in the home, said Detective James Wiebeld of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Victorville station.

While detectives shook their heads over the crime, they were further surprised to find that the family has been receiving a reported $130,000 from various state agencies to care for the children.

Documents obtained from the Sheriff’s Department also show that the family was receiving a monthly Section 8 housing subsidy to help pay their rent.

Detectives suggest that neither Barbara Taylor nor her husband were working at the time of their arrest, another violation of the Child Protective Services agreement in order to take in foster children.

Case agents from Child Protective Services would not comment on the funding, citing privacy laws. = COVER-UP

According to CPS’ Web site, “You must have some way to support your family. California State Regulations require that foster families must be able to meet all their family’s financial needs. ... Foster Care cannot be used as income for this purpose.”

Wiebeld said that CPS agents told him that the family was getting as much as $1,500 a child per month, in which case the family would be receiving closer to $200,000 a year.

Karen Hill of Department of Children’s Services said that there is a monthly rate of pay that follows the children, not the adoptive or foster parents. And while she said the most a child could receive at the age of 18 is $597 a month, the CPS Web site adds that there is an additional specialized care increment that can go as high as $169 a month, as determined by the child’s social worker. At maximum, that would top out around $100,000 a year for the Taylor family.

“The money the foster parents get is paid to them just for the care of the kids. That’s all it’s supposed to be used for allowance, schooling, school supplies, medical care,” Hill said. “If we or somebody else believes that a family is abusing that, they can call the hotline and report it, then that’s a licensing issue.”

Sheriff’s Department officials said that they are unable to disclose the amount Barbara Taylor has been receiving from Section 8, but added that “the local housing authority... is a victim too.”
While officials suggest that this type of fraud is not entirely uncommon, all agree that the real victims in this case have been the abused children.

Tim Cole, 23, was arrested on suspicion of continuing sexual molestation of a child under the age 14, Wiebeld said.

Officials believe he began molesting a now 15-year-old when she was 13, and also began molesting a second 13-year-old one year ago. The first victim also witnessed the second victim’s abuse, Wiebeld said.

Thirteen is the ripe age for this guy. He was 21 when he started molesting the first victim. When the second victim turned 13, he started molesting her,” Wiebeld said. “According to both girls independently, they told the mother a while back and she didn’t do anything about it. Both were also victims of or witnessed physical abuse of the other kids — being hit by belts, et cetera.”

Wiebeld said the man, who denies living at the home full time, is a relative of the Taylors. Cole calls the pair mom and dad, Wiebeld said, but he is some other type of family member, not their son.

Cole also said that he told Mr. Taylor about the molestation.

“For that reason, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were also arrested for child endangerment — failure to provide a safe environment for children,” Wiebeld said.

All 11 children were taken into protective custody and subsequently placed into different foster homes within the local area, Wiebeld said.