Archive for September 2011
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
A source close to America Care management has told us that the America Care main office in San Dimas was Raided by the FBI and served with a Search Warrant for accounting information and computers. Reportedly, computers were removed from the premises by authorities. The source also reported continued contact and inquiries with Homeland Security.
The FBI is involved because tax revenues for America Care, as such revenues are to all foster care agencies, are paid through federal money. Homeland Security apparently continues to be interested in the Ghost employee or employees. And yet we still shake our heads. Is any of this real?
It has gotten so bad for America Care executives that when they have any questions or concerns, and wish to contact the Department of Children and Family Services, they are referred to county council or basically, the lawyers representing the interests of DCFS. Nobody else from the county is apparently allowed to speak with anyone from America Care. Jeepers!
And that, is how serious this emerging scandal appears to be. We were told by our source that she/he expects indictments of some of the main players in the near future. That leads us to believe it will be for some type of yet to be determined financial malfeasance, (such as money laundering?) or as Gomer Pyle used to say… “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
We would love to verify this with the county and or get the official side of things, but we can’t. Like America Care, all auditing inquires are being referred to the same county lawyer.
That a public taxpayer supported agency can hide behind lawyers and inapplicable confidentiality laws remains a travesty and mocks all of us. The secrecy on this and other issues has become so bad that the Los Angeles Times has initiated a lawsuit to obtain information illegally withheld from us by the county.
You can read about the suit here, although it is not particularly related to America Care. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0915-death-records-20110915,0,5104863.story It is indicative of the their attitude towards the release of information that may be embarrassing to DCFS and or other county employees.
The past week the administrator Alicia Ciriani (who we don’t believe had much to do with the actual finances beyond looking the other way) sent a letter to America Care foster parents telling them a contract has been signed and that America Care will now be merging with Masada foster agency.
This is beginning to be a pathetic pattern. Originally the agency was merging with Alliance, then we heard Child Net, and now it’s Masada. It reminds me of Groucho Marx saying he would never join a club that would let him in.
And we would like to know how an agency such as America Care which will cease to exist in a few weeks can sign any type of contract?
Further, foster parents are free to go wherever they want and many of them are accepting the direct and indirect financial enticements (such as a $1000 from Homes of Hope being offered to social workers) who are turning around and making their own arrangements with foster parents. Homes of Hope recently got off a do-not-refer list and are especially hungry according to our source. Eggelston is also actively involved with ‘recruitment,’ if you could call it that.
Oh, and Futuro Infantil Hispano continues to pay their top two executives Oma Velasquez-Rodriguez and Oliver Castelleno more than a half million dollars a year in salary and benefits. https://joshuaallenonline.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/corruption-at-its-finest2.png And we continue to have serious questions about how many hours per week Castelleno worked since many employees seemed to think he was mostly retired.
This “poaching,” of foster families by agencies is about one thing only. Money. And while this is not a particularly astute observation, it is a pathetic one when considering this is all about the treatment and care of Abused and Neglected children.
We believe the only enticement a Foster Care Agency should be allowed when it comes to recruiting/stealing foster families from other agencies is a informational pitch or presentation to the foster parents showing them what a good job the new perspective agency does in helping Abused and Neglected children and the type of caring and diligent support they can offer the foster parents in helping the children.
You’ll excuse me if I leave to wash my hands.
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We’ll keep trying to nail this down. And thanks to all for your support. We are deeply grateful.
We Now Know the Value of an Abused Child; $1000 dollars: Homes of Hope and America Care Foster Agency
We Now Know the Value of an Abused Child: $1000 dollars: Homes of Hope and America Care
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
Some America Care foster parents have received an interesting call from a social worker looking to leave and who hopes to bring the foster family over to Homes of Hope/West Covina Foster family agencies.
Homes of Hope/West Covina Foster agencies are essentially the same, featuring the same 6 figure salaried double dipping CEO Sukhwinder Singh. We will have more to say about Homes of Hope and Ms. Singh soon, as well as their financials.
But back to the interesting calls:
Briefly, America Care foster family agency is losing their contract by the end of October, and the mostly absent and highly paid executives are doing everything they can to salvage their jobs and a large portion of their salaries by joining or merging with another agency rumored to be a place called Child Net foster agency.
One can only wonder what deals our mostly absent executives are trying to negotiate which would entice Child Net to maintain the nefarious trio in the lifestyle ‘to which they have become accustomed.’
Any agency will have to balance the dynamic trio soiled reputations, and decide if the embarrassing odor is worth the positive balance sheet, since as we know, embarrassing odor attracts flies, or in this case, county auditors. (Are you listening Child Net)?
Uh…But back to the interesting calls.
What the America Care foster parent has told us is that Homes of Hope/West Covina Foster Agency has offered social workers $1000 dollars if they could get the foster families (including the abused children) to come to the new agency, and this particular foster care social worker has offered to split this money with the foster parent who contacted us.
$500 dollars each!
Not a bad deal. Heck, what’s one agency over another? Suki (Homes of Hope) must really be feeling the satisfaction since others report that America Care and Homes of Hope originally had some type of family blood connection until the Caine and Able split.
So we ask as before, where is the county in this unseemly trash heap? Because when it comes to the care of abused and neglected children, the free market has only one role period.
And that is to help repair the lives of the abused children; to repair their damaged world; to somehow make it more livable. And this is clearly not the case.
But it’s all good, and it’s not about money of course. Homes of Hope is said to be offering financial incentives to social workers, to bring foster parents to them, because of their abundance of love and assistance they can offer the children.
You see it’s all about the children.
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We are still trying to find out exactly what precipitated the Counties decision to pull the contract from America Care. What we cannot understand or abide is that this appears to be a secret.
It is our money, and as near as we can tell there are no applicable rules of confidentiality that must protect children.
We suspect it may have something to do with the Ghost employee. We really must wonder if we were too quick to dismiss the link with Homeland Security as dumbstruck as this seems.
Bankruptcy, loans and promissory notes, the invisible man – is any of this stuff real?
The County clearly is afraid they will be sued so we are left to our own devices, which, for want of a better word – stinks. And this is the one constant. They don’t want a misstep. They don’t want to be sued.
Maybe it’s the simplest thing, simple cruddy malfeasance. If that is the case, tell us … Just tell us.
We remind the County, this is a public contract, using public monies, it’s our money.
And neither the County nor America Care are exempt from public transparency and audit. And we want to know, we demand quite frankly, how come this agency is being forced to close? And who is hiding what?
This was published a bit over a year ago and we probably should have included it with the previous post. The link and brief commentary below refers to the 2009 County Audit of America Care and as always we will try to find out more information and keep you informed. You can find the complete audit at the link.
The case of America Care:
“A 2009 fiscal review found over $234,000 in unsupported or inadequately supported expenditures and over $86,000 in excessive salary payments to 3 individuals. Now admittedly the former has a lot to do with lousy paperwork (but not all by any means), and the latter…well, let’s see, over 86 grand in excessive salary to 3 people for one year for this single agency. Extrapolate this by 5 years again and you have close to a half a million dollars! Money meant for abused children. And from a single agency for 3 well-connected individuals. Sadly, whatever excessive salary the county can coerce them to return is apparently for that single year. Now don’t forget, These people couldn’t even document their gas receipts! (But thank heavens they were responsible for children who were victims of crime, sexual abuse and parental neglect). America Cares a bit too much if you ask me, but for what?…”
Oh, and we are still trying to find out more on the Invisible Man…
We will have more information soon but we wanted to get this out to you. Foster parents at America Care Foster Family Agency have received written communication telling them the agency is closing. We will try to get a copy of the letter which we are sure has little actual information. What we do know is the contract is not being renewed and will be expiring at the end of October. So what happened? The county wised up?
Apparently America Care will try to merge with another hapless agency just as United Care did a couple of years ago with Wings of Refuge. America Care will try to fight this and who knows … Foster parents will be in for a big surprise however if they fall for that “Seemless transition,” stuff which they’ll try and foist on the foster parent customers in order to keep their business. The foster parents should know there will be more than a few people tramping through their homes in the near future.
Yet why merge? What do these ethically challenged executives bring to the table for abused and neglected children besides their salaries? Alicia Ciriani actually knows the business and probably can continue to help children but the rest of these miscreants? Does anyone really believe they have a calling?
Why should they continue to earn off the backs from abused children simply because they know the telephone numbers of the foster parents and have an office building?
Because honestly, they don’t have anything else to offer and we believe they should just go away and not accept anymore taxpayer 6 figure salaries. And one other thing, now that county foster parents have payments close to parity with foster agency parents, some may decide they prefer to have an occasional visit by a county worker rather than an agency nanny.
Anyways the entire 2009 tax form can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13CNYw0ZLc89PA5iR9bfCuuaUJsURYvlRR7g-K1D28CQ/edit?hl=en_US And it is always important to remember that the above salaries are always just the beginning of the story when it comes to wealth creation.
America Care was/is one of the bigger agencies in Southern California.
What set America Care apart from other agencies was several factors:
The CEO, who many referred to as “Ramsy,” and who was one of the founders was listed as the CEO at the agency but many employees had never actually seen or met him. The ‘Ramsy’ also had several outside business interests (including a bankruptcy a couple of years ago which may have precipitated this) and whose wife generally runs the place has a mostly empty office, and individuals are discouraged from asking too much about him – questions like… where is the guy? (One ex employee noted the room would become silent whenever he asked this).
We also seem to remember a strange $800,000 out-of-state promissory note, that according to court documents, was issued just a few months prior to the bankruptcy – strange because who the heck would issue that type of note (at 10% if we recall) when finances were so in peril? Maybe nothing…
Another member of the America Care team is an especially interesting case; as we can find nobody who works there who even knew who this guy is, let alone someone who earned a 6 figure salary toiling in the trenches, and making such a huge difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. You would have to be helping children big time right? In order to be earning that hunk of change.
I mean it’s one thing to rarely see the boss, but it is quite another when long time employees don’t t even know the guy exists. True one person said they “may have seen him at a Christmas party…” Okay, that makes me feel better. We are talking about a non-profit charity that cares and treats abused and neglected children…seems kind of strange huh?
We had heard unverified rumors that even Homeland Security wanted to know who the heck the guy was. And we realize we are not in the ‘unverifiable rumors business,’ but it’s all moot apparently, since the place will soon be spreading the foster care wealth to other agencies. Honestly, we wish we had gone with this stuff sooner but where does one start with all this mishmash?
Alicia Ciriani the executive director of America Care was known to work long hours getting to the office early in the morning and leaving late, and we imagine she may surface somewhere else as she did previously when she left Futuro Infantil Hispano under a cloud almost a decade or ago.
America Care was one of the first agencies to strictly use Contract Social Workers (as opposed to employees) and wouldn’t even take a meeting with a prospective social worker unless they could promise to bring (er..steal) foster parents and foster children with them from whatever agency the foster care social worker currently worked at and wanted to leave.
Alicia Ciriani has a cadre of loyal social workers, many whom had worked with her for a decade or more and we can only assume that many will probably follow to some other pre-planned location. Although perhaps we are proffering too much credit.
America Care is also famous for employing contract social workers that work at as many as 4 or 5 other agencies and have many more than the 18 or so foster children which foster care social workers are allowed on their case loads. The fiction is they get around this rule by working at agencies in different counties.
A uprorious and laughter filled staff meeting is scheduled for 6:00pm Friday that will feature long speeches of gratitude from soon to be ex-employees, and will also feature heartfelt apologies from the CEO’s et al, who feel the employees, foster parents, and Abused and Neglected Children’s pain all the way to the bank.
If history is any lesson, this meeting will be one of many fun filled occasions over the next several weeks while foster parents and social workers try to get the best deal they can for their valuable Abused and Neglected Children. We can hardly wait for the employees call for transparency! Can anyone spell “finders fee..?”
The Business of Child Abuse