Foster parents outraged after baby removed from home

Foster parents outraged after baby removed from home

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico couple says Richmond Social Services removed a foster baby from their home like they were taking out trash. No warning. No reason given.

Harold and Denise Charity believe the baby was removed in retaliation because they refused to foster the baby's siblings after a stunning revelation that one of the children has herpes. We are still trying to button down Social Services' side of the story.

A few hours ago, Richmond DSS sent an email that does not address the couple's allegation that the child's herpes diagnosis was intentionally withheld from them. Instead, it talks about policy and the agency's utmost respect for foster parents.

The contentious removal occurred last Friday night. A knock at the door disrupted the flow at the Charity home six nights ago, and what followed was heart -wrenching, says Harold and Denise.

"The way they took the child out of here with nothing, just the clothes on her back. You don't treat nobody like that," said Denise. "She was no more than an object, a piece of trash. I didn't even give her a hug. Nothing."

"It's very hateful and vindictive," said Harold.

The 14-month-old was calling Harold daddy. They were fostering to adopt her when Richmond Social Services asked them to also adopt her siblings. They agreed. They complied with the intense screening, spent money decorating bedrooms, buying clothes, and toys for all three. Denise even quit her job, she says, on Social Services' recommendation, because the children needed additional supervision.

It all derailed when, Denise says, the older kids' foster Mom left a folder of medical records belonging to the 9-year-old sister, when the older siblings were in the home for a visit. The hospital diagnosis shows Herpes Simplex Virus One (oral) and Herpes Stomatitis diagnosis.

"You're putting other people in harm's way," said Harold.

HSV-1 is related to the HSV-2 virus that causes genital herpes, but research shows it isn't the same virus. It's still highly contagious, and the Charities are concerned because the child is being treated with a drug that's also used to treat genital herpes, shingles and chickenpox and that social services is dismissing the seriousness of it

"All you had to do was let us know that one of the kids had herpes," said Denise. "That would have been our decision to say okay, but they did not give us the option."

Richmond Social Services writes: "policy requires youth placed in foster care have a medical assessment prior to coming into the home," however the department may have limited knowledge of the child's background.

"She was diagnosed December 3, 2014," said Denise. "So, It's no way that they didn't know that this child had herpes."

They want the baby back.

"I feel like what was placed on our heart by God, to give children a loving home, has just been destroyed. I just feel like we're not doing what God wants us to do."

The Charities are hoping an attorney will come forward to help them stand up to Social Services for financial reimbursement. The department's letter speaks to reimbursement in general and makes no mention of the baby who was removed.

This is the response from Richmond Department of Social Services after allegations made by Harold and Denise Charity:

Good Afternoon Diane,
I am not available for an interview, and due to confidentiality laws, I am unable to speak to specific cases.  I would, however, like to address your questions regarding policies and I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to do so.
First let me say, in my almost 20 years of working in child welfare, I have found those individuals willing to serve as foster parents to be inspiring and incredibly selfless.  They not only open their homes, but their hearts as well; embracing kids through a journey to healing.  They do this knowing the ultimate goal is to reunite children with their families whenever possible, as your local departments of social services are not adoption agencies.  They often do this with an openness to adoption, provided all other options are exhausted and while recognizing that may not happen. 
Foster parents truly serve as surrogate parents.  As such, they are provided all available medical information pertaining to the child or children at the time of placement; they are the folks who take the children to the doctor appointments and all follow up care, as any parent would.  They have direct access to the doctors and all prior medical history.  The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) policy requires youth placed in foster care have a medical assessment within 30 days of coming into care due to the fact the department may have limited knowledge of the child's background and significant experiences prior to assuming custody.  Often the foster parents are the ones taking the child to the assessment and any requisite follow up care with the support of a social worker.

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