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Board Terminates Contracts With Foster Agency That Allegedly Spent Money On Beer And Cigarettes

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Contracts between the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and a private foster care agency, that has been dogged by reports of financial misdeeds and alleged abuse of foster children, have been terminated.

The board voted to terminate the contracts on Tuesday.

Teens Happy Homes Inc. has experienced issues that go back at least a decade, and audit findings suggest that the agency’s employees were allegedly spending money, that was meant for children, on beer and cigarettes, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.

In its review of hotline data, 240 allegations of abuse or neglect, filed against the agency during a recent three-year period, have been found.

Since April of this year, supervisors Gloria Molina and Michael Antonovich have been pushing to end the county’s relationship with the agency, which not only runs group homes, but also refers children to foster homes.

On May 21, the board put a 45-day hold on new referrals to the agency and moved behind closed doors in order to discuss the matter.

Prio to Tuesday’s vote, which was unanimous, there had been no comment by the board.

“In light of ongoing issues relating to these contracts, the foster young of Los Angeles County would be better served by terminating the contracts with Teens Happy Homes Inc.,” a motion by Molina and Antonovich suggested.

According to the Times, Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip Browning said Teens had 82 children in 42 homes as of April 30.

However, more than 1,100 children lived in Teens homes between 2008 and 2011, and the county reportedly paid the contractor as much as $3.6 million annually.

Teens Happy Homes will be provided with a 90-day notice in order to manage the transition with “minimal disruption to county foster children.”

Staff will reportedly make efforts to help parents who want to get licensed or certified, so that children can remain in their homes. However, in other cases, children will need to be moved to a new foster home.

In addition, the District Attorney’s Office is considering the possibility of filing criminal charges against the agency.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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