Friday, August 26, 2016

KAIT: Family services leader fired for 'integrity, honesty' reasons

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 2:11 PM

KAIT-TV in Jonesboro reports that a Greene County supervisor in the Division of Children and Family Services was fired for violating a policy about integrity and honesty.

Complaints had been made about Terri Blanchard of Paragould for some other reasons, including having a pool party as a "team building" event at her home when they should have been working. But a subsequent investigation unearthed other elements in the firing decision.

During a series of text messages on the app GROUPME, an employee asked if it was okay to "tell off" someone in the training class. Blanchard responded, "Can you do it in private and say it never happened?"

Blanchard also stated, "Don't put anything in text, email, or written form that can be traced back to you."

"Terri Blanchard was unprofessional, unethical and lacked integrity by first not addressing the negative communication and secondly by taking part in the negative conversation," the state summarized in their hearing. "She actually encouraged the bad behavior by telling the staff to do something unethical in private and say it never happened." 

The documents obtained by KAIT also indicated concerns about confidentiality of foster children.

An examination of the GROUPME conversations between the staff of the Greene County office revealed an ex-employee was still part of the conversation. The former employee "received confidential information because she was never removed from the group after departing DCFS."

The names of foster children, Social Security information, and Medicaid numbers were all included in the conversations. 

The state also questioned the security of using the app for such confidential materials.

Another text message shows that staff members were unprofessional when discussing their clients.

When discussing one client's arrest, someone posted "well at least she got her hair colored".

Another conversation took place about a 2-year old foster child who acts out sexually.

"Well at least she's touching herself and not anyone else," a staff member posted.

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