Few things are more discouraging or disconcerting than when people entrusted to take care of our most vulnerable citizens — in this case, foster children — are accused of systematic wrongdoing and blatant abuse of their caretaking role.
The recent accusations from the state Department of Children and Families against Community Care Resources, a foster care placement service based in Middleton, are nothing short of startling, and give us pause for a number of reasons.
The state is seeking to revoke CCR’s license to operate, which would shut down the agency led by Dan Simon and his wife, Mary. The department alleges CCR has billed the state for $6.1 million more than they should have, and used the fraudulent funds on things such as sprawling homes, boats, cars and vacations.
The couple has vigorously denied the allegations, and has appealed the state’s move to yank their license. Though he has not responded to State Journal requests for interviews, Don Simon told the state he and his wife have been underpaid and that the expenses involved are all legitimate.
Adding to the head-scratching nature of the case is that some foster families who have worked with CCR for many years insist the Simons are nothing short of virtuous and have only the best interest of the children in mind, while other foster parents say they’re not at all surprised by the accusations and have wondered about the Simons’ apparent lavish lifestyle for a long time.
Community Care Resources continues to operate during the appeal process, which is a good thing for the 120 foster kids placed in homes around the state through the agency. Whether it’s a good thing for taxpayers, who ultimately pay for such care throughout Wisconsin, remains to be seen.
We don’t presume to know if the state has a solid case against CCR. But we do know this: The foster care network fills a critical need in Wisconsin, and the lives of many hurting kids are at stake.
We need more foster families, not fewer, and we hope that this messy episode doesn’t diminish the wonderful work being done in foster homes around the state.
— Wisconsin State Journal