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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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DSHS didn’t consult with authorities on Powell

OLYMPIA — A panel reviewing the deaths of Josh Powell’s two young children says state social workers did not consult with law enforcement before allowing Powell to host visits at his home.

DSHS sends mobile office to Ferry County

The Department of Social and Health Services said Monday it sent a mobile Customer Service Office to Keller in Ferry County to assist residents who need access to services.

Excelsior could house sex offenders

Excelsior Youth Center may partner with the state Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration to open 12 beds for teenage Level 1 sex offenders. Bob Faltermeyer, Excelsior’s director, said the JRA approached the north Spokane nonprofit two months ago about the contract, but nothing has been finalized.

Complaints at DSHS rise as state funding drops

Demand for social services increased dramatically at the same time Washington state cut those services for an increasing number of poor, jobless residents. The number of state residents experiencing long-term unemployment tripled and the number of poor adults increased by 11 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the Department of Social and Health Services Client Survey released Tuesday. There also were 13 percent more children living in poverty and 39 percent more hungry families.

Courthouse family rights protest planned

A family rights group is planning protests on Friday against the child welfare system at courthouses across the nation, including Spokane. The protests, planned in 42 states and Washington, D.C., are being organized by an Internet-based movement known as Govabuse and will target family courts, child protective services and foster care systems that it says “separate and financially demolish families,” according to the organization’s website, govabuse.org.

State smacks nursing facility

A Spokane nursing home that has faced previous sanctions for unsafe conditions has been ordered to stop accepting new residents after the death of a resident last month. State officials say staff at Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center provided poor care for Robert Coon, 63, who died after staff failed to provide him the level of fluids his physician recommended.

Welfare agency leader lacks support of union

A vote by union employees of the state Children’s Administration overwhelmingly expressed no confidence in the agency’s head, the Washington Federation of State Employees said. “This is not something we take lightly, and we hope the administration doesn’t take it lightly either,” said union spokesman Tim Welch, who added that morale at the agency is the lowest he has seen in more than 24 years.

DSHS privatization halted by judge

A Thurston County judge has ordered the Washington Department of Social and Health Services to stop contracting with private agencies to manage child welfare cases until it can show that it complies with state law. Ruling from the bench, Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee ordered a preliminary injunction on Friday after the state’s largest public employees union sued the department, claiming it was exceeding its authority by privatizing child welfare.

State workers union sues DSHS, claims ‘effort to privatize child welfare’

The largest union representing Washington state workers has filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court seeking to stop the Department of Social and Health Services from privatizing child welfare. DSHS maintains it is merely implementing a law that requires the department’s Children’s Administration to consolidate its numerous state contracts based on performance standards and measurable outcomes.

Editorial: Keep public assistance programs accountable

What might be lost in the controversy over welfare debit card abuse is the fact that the state is taking serious steps to address the problem. The unfortunate distraction emerged when Troy Hutson, a Department of Social and Health Services official who was in charge of the food stamps and child support agency, made some ill-advised comments in reaction to a KING-TV investigation of debit card abuse. He later resigned.

DSHS resignation comes amid criticism over fraud comments

SEATTLE – The official in charge of Washington state’s food stamp and child support agency has resigned amid an uproar over televised remarks he made that appeared to dismiss evidence of welfare fraud. KING-TV reported that Department of Social and Health Services Assistant Secretary Troy Hutson, of the Economic Services Administration, tendered his resignation in the past week. Several state lawmakers have recently called for him to be fired.

Adoptions, parental rights loophole puts families in flux

A Tri-Cities couple’s adopted sons may be taken away, and a Spokane woman’s daughter was adopted while she fought to keep the girl. The separate child custody cases illustrate a gap in Washington law that makes it possible for adoptions to be finalized while the biological mother or father appeals termination of their parental rights.

State reduces aid for families

Washington cut about 5,000 families off welfare Tuesday and reduced the monthly benefit to the families remaining on assistance at a time when more people are asking for help. As of Tuesday, Washington is reducing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families by 15 percent, resulting in an annual savings of $50.68 million.

State assistance terminated for 5,000 families

Washington cut about 5,000 families off welfare Tuesday and reduced the monthly benefit to the families remaining on assistance, at a time when more people are asking for help. As of Tuesday, Washington is reducing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families by 15 percent, resulting in an annual savings of $50.68 million.

Special needs kids find caring home with the Beuhls

The first phone call came almost 20 years ago. It was about a tiny child at St. Anne’s Children Home with shaken baby syndrome. The baby was so frail and mistreated staff were afraid the child would never be able to form a lasting bond with anyone. Terry Beuhl answered the phone that night and after a conversation with her husband, Jerry, the couple decided to make the one-year commitment it took to become the baby’s foster parents. Today, the couple continues to open their home, arms and hearts to abused, sick and mistreated babies who need a temporary home. As foster parents, they have lost count of how many babies they have held, rocked, burped and changed over the years.

Letter details targeted cuts to Medicaid services

Thousands of Washington’s poorest residents will receive a letter early next month informing them that they will lose health care services in the coming year as the state cuts Medicaid spending. The “Dear Client” letter from the Medicaid Purchasing Administration says “optional” programs such as dental care, hearing devices and hospice care will be eliminated Jan. 1 as a result of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s order in September cutting state spending 6.3 percent to compensate for an expected $1.4 billion budget shortfall through June 2011.