After foster parent's arrest and WBRZ report, lawmaker calls for investigation
GONZALES – WBRZ reports highlighting red flags may have been missed as many as two years before a foster parent’s arrest this week rattled the cage of a state lawmaker who called for an investigation Friday.
“I was shocked. And, when it happens in your own back yard, you are really concerned.” District 18 State Senator Eddie Lambert told WBRZ.
Lambert spoke in outrage after a story the night before – sources said they reported the foster parent to the Department of Children and Family Services two years ago. The foster parent, Jerry Oubre, was arrested Thursday on sexual battery and indecent behavior with juveniles charges.
“...I reported this… almost two years to the date,” a woman wrote in an email to DCFS and obtained by WBRZ. The woman emailed the child advocacy department after learning of Oubre’s arrest from WBRZ.
“For the last two years I have had to sit by and watch DCFS drop off one little girl after another after I warned you guys he had all the red flags. All I could do is pray God would expose him because there was nothing left I could do,” the woman frustratingly wrote in the email.
“This should have been prevented two years ago. This should have never happened.”
It’s not the first time WBRZ has reported on complaints appearing to go unnoticed by the state child welfare system. In 2015 and 2016, the WBRZ Investigative Unit reported on similar situations. In one instance, an employee said she was told to make false reports about home visits to children and their foster families in a way of “getting things done no matter what."
It’s why Lambert said he’ll lead an investigation into DCFS. He’s bothered that children who need the most utmost care may not be receiving it.
“They are in foster care, they already have issues, a situation like this makes it even worse.”
The Department of Children and Family Services did not want to discuss specifics or if red flags were ignored. It has constantly blamed issues on a lack of resources tied to short government funding.
A governor’s office spokesperson backed that up in a statement, too.
Caseworkers, a spokesperson said, “had and continue to have crushing caseloads."
"... Providing adequate funding for state agencies has been a challenge," despite some budget constraints being addressed last summer, Shauna Sanford, a governor's office spokesperson told WBRZ.
Lambert is just as puzzled about funding issues as he is about the organization of DCFS.
“I know last year, we did fund government fully as a result of the tax increases. I hope it’s not a funding issue, if it is, we need to look at that to see what needs to be done so we can protect these children.”
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