Washington Foster Care Crisis

Three Men and a Vulnerable Child: DSHS Error in Judgment

On March 1, 2018, headlines in the Vancouver, WA Columbian newspaper read, “DSHS pays 3.1 million after placing Vancouver girl with known rapist”. The article told of CPS placement of an infant with her biological father, even though he had a known history to indicate this situation would present a direct and serious threat of harm. The child remained in her father’s care and was sexually abused for years before the tragic error was corrected.

 

On February 28, 2018, one day before the news broke of the 3.1 million DSHS settlement, Vancouver mother Trisha DeLaurent, who has been fighting 17 months for the return of her children, was informed that her 11-year-old son Austin* would be placed in a similarly dangerous situation with his biological father and two adult half-brothers. The oldest half-brother is a known sexual predator who has been caught molesting siblings in the past. The younger half-brother has a history of violent behavior and has physically attacked Austin on at least one occasion. Both adult siblings have exposed 11-year-old Austin to pornography since being in state care. The new living arrangement between these three grown men and vulnerable child is scheduled to begin on Friday, March 9th, 2018.

The DeLaurent children were taken from their mother’s care by Oregon CPS in October 2016 after two anonymous hotline calls were made by Trisha’s estranged mother who claimed her oldest grandson was a victim of medical child abuse. The grandmother, Pamala Gaddis, is engaged in an intimate relationship with her daughter’s ex-husband and abuser, William Lance Ulich.

Trisha DeLaurent and her children are survivors of severe, court-documented, domestic violence at the hands of Lance Ulich, Austin’s biological father. In April of 2014, Mr. Ulich was subjected to two consecutive years of domestic violence orders of protection, which prevented all contact with Trisha and the three children. After he completed domestic violence and parenting classes, the court determined that Mr. Ulich still demonstrated high lethality risks based on his own testimony and court evaluations.

In 2015, following a lengthy divorce trial, a King County Washington Superior Court judge issued a lifetime protection order for Trisha and her children. The court also approved confidential relocation and sealed name changes due to what the judge determined to be a high likelihood that, given the opportunity, Mr. Ulich would harm the family again. Now, less than three years later, William Lance Ulich has been designated by Multnomah County Judge Susan Svetkey, through an interstate agreement between Oregon and Washington child protective services, as appropriate placement for the 11-year-old child.

 

Austin has been in therapy for years due to diagnosed PTSD after finally escaping the domestic violence he witnessed when his father frequently beat and verbally abused his mother and others in the household. According to Washington court records, Austin remembers seeing his dad strangle his mother. He openly expressed his fears to DHS case workers, his attorney and others at the onset of the CPS intervention. During a hearing early in the case, Ms. Jane Chausova, Austin’s court appointed attorney stated to Judge Svetkey, “…[Austin] does not want to have any contact with his father. He’s reported that he’s very fearful of him and it causes him distress to think that his father is participating in this case.”

In the CPS Investigator’s notes, Austin is quoted as making the following statements regarding Lance Ulich:

• “He abused my brothers and always got mad. He would break stuff and yell.”
• “I’m afraid he’ll abuse me like he abused every single kid in my house”
• “I have stress a lot. I don’t want to see him.”

The investigator also included in his notes that Austin reported he is afraid of his father and that he sees his father behind him in the mirror sometimes.

All the above statements of fear were expressed while Austin was still protected from Mr. Ulich by a court order, and the father and son had not had any contact in almost three years. Within three months of being in state’s custody, the court ordered protections had been improperly circumvented by Oregon DHS, and Mr. Ulich was given full access to his son despite Austin’s expressed fears.

Trisha DeLaurent has continued to advocate for the safety of her children as they each have been exposed to increasingly dangerous and potentially harmful situations in foster care over the past 17 months. Now, five weeks from a decision that could bring all three of her children home (April 10, 2018), Trisha has learned that Oregon and Washington child protective services have collaborated to order that Austin live with his abusive biological father and two adult half-brothers in Seattle, Washington.

The significant abuse that Austin has suffered since being in state care is currently the subject of ongoing investigations by regulatory agencies in Oregon State. The recent decision to force Austin to live with his biological father was stipulated to by Washington DSHS through the ICPC division that handles Interstate Compact agreements. As a result, Washington DSHS has agreed to take responsibility for Austin’s safety (or lack thereof).

The agreement to place Austin in a situation that a King County Superior Court judge deemed to pose “high lethality risks” as recently as 2015 is startling. With the March 1, 2018 press release of a $3.1 million settlement reached by Washington DSHS regarding a similar derelict placement, it seems logical that the Agency would be operating with heightened awareness. Based on evidence in King County Court record, it is not a question of whether Austin will be harmed in the new placement, it is more likely a  question of how tragic the harm will be.

*The name of Trisha Delaurent’s son (Austin) has been changed in this article to protect his identity

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22 thoughts on “Three Men and a Vulnerable Child: DSHS Error in Judgment

  1. I guess DSHS can afford another $3.1 million! Truly sick and disgusting! Thought they are supposed to PROTECT children!

  2. There is FACT BASED EVIDENCE AND COURT ORDERS TO PROTECT THIS MOM AND HER CHILDREN!
    HOW THE HELL IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING!?

    1. I am so shocked and saddened to read about this utter breakdown in our public safety net. I will indeed hope and pray for your friend and her children that they remain together and the courts rule in her favor.

  3. This situation is so urgent, tragic and heartbreaking! How can Oregon and Washington “Child Protective” Services have made such a grievous decision to place this vulnerable 11 year old, who is already suffering from PTSD due to his father’s actions, back with his father who has a Lifetime Protection Order against him and is never supposed to see this child at all??? Beseeching the Governors and state senators in Washington State and Oregon to intercede in this situation, halt it immediately and thoroughly investigate this whole hearing, especially the Deputy DA’s many illegal manipulative offenses, the social services constant egregious actions, the attorney who didn’t even visit the children she supposedly represents in 16 months, the grandmother and most of all the father of Austin. Praying for this dear child and his mother and siblings.

  4. I still cannot comprehend how DHS thinks they have the right to place Austin with a man who has a restraining order against him and has two adult-aged sons who are sexual deviants (one a pedophile, the other seemingly a pedophile-in-training).

    This is what the Oregon DHS operational manual deems an “Impending Danger Safety Threat.” They falsify these things all the time in order to steal children out of their homes, yet they ignore a legitimate threat to a child? It is just like DDA Chuck Mickley and CARES NW pediatrician Cathleen Lang wrongly accusing innocent mothers of medical child abuse, yet letting the one mother who actually DID abuse her child and admitted it (Tiffany Reed) go free, after returning her kid to her, of course. *smh* I would ask, “What is wrong with these people,” except I already know the answer. Evil runs amok in the DHS system and those who “feed” children into their system. It is so wrong and it makes me ill that no one in a position of authority/power cares enough to protect “Austin” DeLaurent from Lance, Basil and Jordan Ulrich, and Pam Gaddis.

  5. This child is in GRAVE and IMMEDIATE DANGER. This course of action must be stopped. It is reprehensible to place this child with the abuser he is supposed to be kept away from with the lifetime domestic violence protection order that is now not being honored. And to subject him to additional threat of violence from the other 2 adult predators who live in the household. Calling on state representatives and the governor to stop this madness and intervene. These state officials should be ashamed of themselves to let their apathy and total incompetence endanger the life and well being of this precious child. He belongs with his mother. This is ridiculous. I am outraged and demand action. Immediate action. How would the state officials involved like their child to be subjected to this? What kind of juvenile justice system and child protective services operations are these states running? Are they corrupt? Incompetent? I don’t know what is wrong with these officials but someone has to intervene on behalf of this child. Such an injustice. Who will stand up for this child and this mother and say enough is enough?

  6. This poor little boy, suffering PTSD from his father’s abusive actions, being placed with him again despite the lifetime domestic violence protection order. This breaks my heart. I am praying hard and sharing this with everyone I can think of to help bring justice and safety for this vulnerable young boy, his mother, and his siblings. #JusticeforAustin #ProtectChildren

  7. How is this even happening? Officials need to intervene immediately to protect the safety of this youth. There is a history of violence (not to mention a DV protection order) and all indicators of high risk with this placement. Time is of the essence. Action is needed now.

  8. It seems as if the childcare services don’t have the best interests of the children in mind. It seems as if they are being blatantly spiteful. Who in their right mind would return a child with PTSD from an abusive father, back to the abusive father? Something is crazy wrong with this picture. Isn’t there a mature, wise person such as the judge who can see through all of this? The important question is this–exactly how scarred for life is Austin going to be after having to return to living with his worst nightmare? Will his father who has a lethal anger problem take out his frustration on him? Or do we have to read about something horrible happening to Austin at the hands of his father in the newspaper, after the fact? It sickens me when that happens and then the childcare workers say, “We just didn’t know.” Patooey! They do know and they can stop it from happening before it happens, The time to stop it is NOW!

  9. This makes me absolutely furious at the court system for putting these children at risk with know abusers. What is wrong with the system. Trisha is an incredible mother. Her children are her everything and now she cant protect them. They need to be with their mother for safety and love

  10. I’m so sorry for these poor abused children. I hope the courts will make the correct decision regarding their future placement. Where are the protection agencies and why aren’t they being held responsible?

  11. This has to be illegal!!! How can this be happening!!!! Please leave this poor child in the safe arms of their mother!!!!

  12. This is so devastatingly sad. My prayers that someone in a position of power can change the direction this case is taking and soon.

  13. In God’s name ,someone with authority step forward to protect this child from dangerous people and an inadequate state child welfare system!

  14. How could this happen?! Lots in the news anout protecting From potential danger in schools. What about protection from documented present danger? This is a travesty on the part of both Oregon and Washington

  15. I don’t even comprehend how this can happen in America. We are failing this family so badly with the situation this poor child is being subjected to. Stop it now! Get him out of the system, away from his abusive father and back with his mother who is fighting with everything she has to keep this child and her family safe.

  16. This is a travesty. The lifetime order of protection should be enforced. For once protect the child and forgo any other reasons you are using as an excuse not to protect this precious child.

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