State investigation holds up public information on foster care provider
Contemporary Family Services subject of state probe
April 10, 2012|By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
It's a common answer to public information requests: "I must deny [what you asked for] because disclosure of any records that may be responsive to such requests would jeopardize ongoing investigations.”
That’s the response I received last month for a request I made to the state Department of Human Resources for information on the state’s second-largest foster care provider, the Hyattsville-based Contemporary Family Services. The company is the subject of an investigation by the agency’s inspector general. For what exactly, we don’t know.
The agency denied my request for information about the use of company money to pay personal expenses for upper management, as was found in an independent audit.
As we published in a series of stories about the company, Contemporary owes the IRS $2.8 million in back taxes and fees from 2002 to 2010.
A spokesman for the Human Resources Department told me, citing the inspector general’s investigation, that he could not provide some important information revealed in a 2009 independent audit of Contemporary. The audit lists “officers’ loans and advances” of $259,776 and “related party investments” of $908,846.
The department hasn’t given me any estimate about when the investigation might conclude. The next step in the case is a July appeals hearing to decide whether the company can keep its license with the state, which paid it nearly $9 million last year.
I had to shake my head at a couple of pages included among the hundreds I received. On a photocopy of an email from a Human Resources employee, the name included in a cut-and-pasted Baltimore Sun article, had been redacted. Of course, I didn’t have to go far to find out whose name was blacked out.