Families Forward, Inc., the nonprofit that runs the D.C. General family shelter, has admitted in a letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty that it has fired employees for inappropriate contact with female residents.
The allegations first came to light yesterday when we reported the concerns of two female residents who alleged that they had been propositioned by Families Forward staff. One resident, Patrice Jackson, alleged that staffers had offered to trade sex for shelter necessities like an extra blanket or juice for her child. Resident P.H. wrote up her concerns in her own letter to Fenty. She told City Desk that a staffer had offered to let her sleep at his house for a weekend.
Families Forward CEO Ruby King-Gregory responded with her own letter to Fenty today. In the letter, she admits:
“Perhaps most sickening, it is true that there have been alleged inappropriate contact between staff and the female residents. However, know that when Families Forward was made aware of this concern, an investigation was conducted and the staff persons in question were swiftly terminated.”
King-Gregory also affirms that “some of the concerns” raised by P.H. are indeed true. She does not address the newborn that died at the shelter on Feb. 9.
King-Gregory denies that the shelter was infested with roaches and mice, and that the stairwell had a serious mold problem. She writes: “The cleanliness of Families Forward run shelters is second to none in this city. We pride ourselves on the personal touch and maintaining the facility in clean, decent, safe and sanitary conditions.”
But King-Gregory did admit that families were delayed in getting case workers. If you want a thorough accounting of that story, please read the Richbow’s story.
King-Gregory admits that the Department of Human Services as well as The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness raised concerns about poor case worker response times:
“In regards to our case management division, DHS and TCP have noted deficiencies in our service delivery and Families Forward has responded by putting correction actions in place to address each and every deficiency noted. Was there a significant time lapse between some family’s entrance and the time that they were seen by a case manager? Yes, at times and with reasonable explanation. During this hypothermia season, the shelter capacity grew faster than Families Forward could employ staff.”
King-Gregory goes on to say that they’ve been a service provider for 25 years. Its “tenure has not been flawless,” she writes, but her organization has “emerged a stronger program, better equipped, more determined, and if even possible, more dedicated.”
The CEO concludes her letter but boasting that her staff is “standing ready for inspection.” She then invites Fenty to visit D.C. General “unannounced.”
As far as media inquiries, that’s another matter. In e-mail, Joi Buford, Families Forward’s shelter programs manager, stated that she will have no comment and that “all issues will be addressed at the Oversight Hearing.”
P.H. had this to say about Families Forward’s letter: “Once again, this is an attempt to cover up their inadequacies as an organization. Right now, they’re treading water. Of course, they’re going to be on their p’s and q’s now because they are under fire. A pop-up visit is meaningless now. Hypothermia season is almost over.”