State to revoke agency's foster care license
(CINCINNATI) -- The state license of the private agency that helped place a 3-year-old developmentally disabled boy with foster parents now accused in his death will be revoked, authorities said Wednesday.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it notified Lifeway for Youth during a meeting to discuss recertification after the current license expires Thursday. Department spokesman Dennis Evans said Lifeway can appeal the decision and request a hearing.
A message was left at the agency's New Carlisle, Ohio, office for Michael Berner, the executive director and founder of the business that helps place children with foster parents.
Liz and David Carroll Jr. were certified to be foster parents through the agency, licensed in Ohio since 1994 and also operating in Kentucky, Indiana and Virginia.
The Carrolls face separate trials next month on charges accusing them of leaving Marcus Fiesel alone in a closet for two days, wrapped in a blanket and packing tape. Authorities say the boy was dead when they returned to their home in Clermont County from a family reunion in Kentucky.
The couple reported the boy missing Aug. 15, triggering a massive search for the child who supposedly had wandered off in a public park. The Carrolls were arrested Aug. 28 and have pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Lifeway officials have said they were misled by the Carrolls.
"There were enough issues, noncompliance with the rules, that were found that did not warrant renewing their license," Evans said. "They were allowing families to care for children requiring a higher level of care than they had received adequate training for."
The state said Wednesday that a review of 40 Lifeway for Youth foster homes and investigations in the aftermath of the Carroll case found 147 violations of state rules; 27 in the Carroll case.
Failures included recommending unqualified foster parents for special-needs care such as in the Marcus Fiesel case, incomplete training of foster parents, not completing background checks, not investigating possible violations by foster parents and incomplete assessments and updates of foster households.
Lifeway for Youth describes itself on its Web site as a private, nonprofit agency providing therapeutic alternative care and programs for at-risk youth, with more than 600 youths in four states. State authorities said there are 477 children in 308 Lifeway homes in 11 Ohio counties.
Fiesel's death spurred a Job and Family Services investigation leading to a report in November that recommended increased training of foster parent applicants and those who assess them; widened background checks that would include credit and residence histories; drug testing of applicants; data-sharing among agencies, courts and law enforcement; and increased state staffing for foster-care oversight.
Meanwhile, David Carroll has asked a judge to replace the two attorneys appointed to represent him. "Based on our disagreements, there's been a total breakdown in attorney-client relationship," Carroll, 29, said in a handwritten motion filed with the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas on Friday. "The breakdown is of such magnitude that preparation of my defense has become impossible."
The court-appointed lawyers, Stephen J. Wenke and Scott A. Rubenstein, asked the judge to remove them from the case, but Judge Jerry McBride ruled against that on Dec. 22. Messages were left Wednesday for Wenke and Rubenstein.
Carroll is scheduled for trial Feb. 26. He and Liz, 30, scheduled for trial beginning Feb. 12, are charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, kidnapping and endangering a child.
David Carroll also is charged with gross abuse of a corpse.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)